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linoiuinq fhemlouc iKemiond 



Stephen Leacock 



Copyright in all countries 



Biographical 1 

Anthology 21 

Appreciation 125 

Bibliograpny lo5 

Index 174 






HILE an author is still living 
he has rights that a biographer 
is bound to respect. If he 
states that he was born on a 
certain day, in a certain year, 
at a certain place, it is the bio- 
garpher's duty to accept these statements with- 
out question. He may suspect that the author 
has taken the facts on hearsay evidence, but he 
must leave it to some conscientious biographer 
of the future to consult the parish register and 
verify the details. 

Moreover, if the author occasionally indulges 
in autobiography and sets forth expUcitly what 
he regards as the effects of the various events 
of his life on his career, the biographer will be 
wise to accept these confidences in a thankful 

Being convinced of the soundness of these 
views, the work of the present biographer of 
Stephen Leacock is greatly simplified. By let- 
ting Mr. Leacock, as far as possible, tell the 

— 1 — 


story of his own life, his labors will be reduced 
to a minimum and the enjo3nnent of the reader 
greatly increased. Mr. Leacock can tell the 
story of his life better than anyone else — and 
this is how he does it. 

"I was born at Swanmoor, Hants, England, 
on December 30, 1869. I am not aware that 
there was any conjunction of the planets at the 
time, but should think it extremely likely. My 
parents migrated to Canada in 1876, and my 
father took up a farm near Lake Simcoe, in On- 
tario. This was during the hard times of Cana- 
dian farming, and my father was just able by 
great diUgence to pay the hired man, and, in 
years of great plenty, to raise enough grain to 
have seed for the next year's crop without buy- 
ing any. By this process my brothers and I 
were inevitably driven off the land, and have 
become professors, business men, and engi- 
neers, instead of being able to grow up as farm 
laborers. Yet I saw enough of farming to 
speak exuberantly in poUtical addresses of the 
joy of early rising and the deep sleep, both of 
body and intellect, that is induced by honest 
manual toil. 

"I was educated at Upper Canada College, 
Toronto, of which I was head boy in 1887. 

— 2 — 


From there I went to the University of Toronto, 
where I graduated in 189 1. At the Univer- 
sity I spent my entire time in the acquistion of 
languages, living, dead, and half-dead, and 
knew nothing of the outside world. In this 
diligent pursuit of words I spent about sixteen 
hours of each day. Very soon after graduation 
I had forgotten the languages and found myself 
intellectually bankrupt. In other words I 
was what is called a distinguished graduate, 
and, as such, I took to school teaching as the 
only trade I could find that needed neither 
experience nor intellect. I spent my time from 
1891 to 1899 on the staff of Upper Canada Col- 
lege, an experience which has left me with a 
profound S3niipathy for the many gifted and 
briUiant men who are compelled to spend their 
lives in the most dreary, the most thankless, 
and the worst-paid profession in the world. I 
have noted that of my pupils those who seemed 
the laziest and least enamored of books are 
now rising at the bar, in business, and in public 
life ; the really promising boys, who took all the 
prizes, are now able with difficulty to earn the 
wages of a clerk in a summer hotel or a deck- 
hand on a canal boat, 
"in 1899 1 gave up school teaching in disgust, 

— 3 — 


borrowed enough money to live upon for a few 
months, and went to the University of Chicago 
to study economics and political science. I 
was soon appointed to a fellowship in political 
economy, and by means of this, and some 
temporary emplo3mient by McGill University, 
I survived until I took the degree of doctor of 
philosophy in 1903. The meaning of this de- 
gree is that the recipient of instruction is ex- 
amined for the last time in his life and is pro- 
nounced completely full. After this no new 
ideas can be imparted to him. 

"From this time I have belonged to the staff 
of McGill University, first as a lecturer in poli- 
tical science, and later as the head of the De- 
partment of Economics and Political Science. 
As this position is one of the prizes of my pro- 
fession, I am able to regard myself as singu- 
larly fortunate. The emolument is so high as 
to place me distinctly above the policemen, 
postmen, street-car conductors, and other sala- 
ried officials of the neighborhood, while I am 
able to mix with the poorer of the business 
men of the city on terms of something like 
equality. In point of leisure, I enjoy more in 
the four corners of a single year than a business 
man knows in his whole life. I thus have what 



the business man can never enjoy, an ability to 
think, and, what is still better, to stop thinking 
altogether for months at a time. 

"I have written a number of things in con- 
nection with my college life — a book on Poli- 
tical Science, and many essays, magazine ar- 
ticles, and so on. I belong to the PoUtical 
Science Association of America, to the Royal 
Colonial Institute, and to the Church of Eng- 
land. These things surely are proofs of res- 
pectability. I have had some small connec- 
tion with politics and public life. A few years 
ago I went all around the British Empire deli- 
vering addresses on Imperial Organization. 
When I state that these lectures were followed 
almost immediately by the Union of South 
Africa, the Banana Riots in Trinidad, and the 
Turko-Italian war, I think you can form some 
idea of their importance. In Canada I belong 
to the Conservative party, but as yet I have 
failed entirely in Canadian politics, never hav- 
ing received a contract to build a bridge, or 
make a wharf, nor to construct even the small- 
est section of the Transcontinental Railway. 
This, however, is a form of national ingratitude 
to which one becomes accustomed in this 

— 5 — 


"Apart from my college work, I have writ- 
ten two books, one called ' Literary Lapses ' 
and the other 'Nonsense Novels.' Each of 
these is published by John Lane (London and 
New York), and either of them can be obtained, 
absurd as it sounds, for the mere sum of three 
shillings and sixpence. Any reader of this 
paper, for example, ridiculous though it appears, 
could walk into a bookstore and buy both of 
these books for seven shillings. Yet these 
works are of so humorous a character that for 
many years it was found impossible to print 
them. The compositors fell back from their 
task suffocated with laughter and gasping for 
air. Nothing but the invention of the lino- 
type machine — or rather of the kind of men 
who operate it — made it possible to print these 
books. Even now people have to be very 
careful in circulating them, and the books 
should never be put into the hands of people 
not in robust health. 

"Many of my friends are under the impres- 
sion that I write these humorous nothings in 
idle moments when the wearied brain is unable 
to perform the serious labors of the economist. 
My own experience is exactly the other way. 
The writing of soUd, instructive stuff, fortified 

— 6 — 


by facts and figures, is easy enough. There 
is no trouble in writing a scientific treatise on 
the folk-lore of Central China, or a statistical 
enquiry into the declining population of Prince 
Edward Island. But to write something out 
of one's own mind, worth reading for its own 
sake, is an arduous contrivance, only to be 
achieved in fortunate moments, few and far be- 
tween. Personally I would rather have writ- 
ten 'Alice in Wonderland' than the whole 
'Encyclopaedia Britannica.' " 

Of the two books mentioned above he gives 
elsewhere an account that may be added appro- 
priately to this autobiographical sketch. The 
attention of the reader is called to the fact that 
the sketches included in "Literary Lapses" 
were written between 1891 and 1897, when the 
author was in his early twenties. They were 
not published in book form until fifteen years 
later, when they made an immediate success. 
Although they did not attract the attention of 
book publishers when they first appeared in 
Saturday Night, Life, Truth, Puck, The De- 
troit Free Press, and similar publications, they 
established Mr. Leacock's reputation as a 
humorous writer with all who read these papers 
at that time. They won for him many enthusi- 

— 7 — 

S.L.— 2 


astic admirers who were not surprised at the 
favor with which his writings were received 
when gathered in book form. For years this 
literary gold-mine lay hidden in the files of old 
papers, while the author occupied himself 
with the uncongenial task of school teaching 
and with serious forms of writing and study. 
Of his first book he writes : 

"The sketches in 'Literary Lapses' were 
very largely written in my younger days, just 
after I left college. The one called 'A, B, and 
C was the first of them. The editor of a To- 
ronto paper gave me two dollars for it. This 
opened up for me a new world : it proved to me 
that an industrious man of my genius, if he 
worked hard and kept clear of stimulants and 
bad company, could earn as much as eight 
dollars a month with his pen. In fact, this has 
since proved true. 

"But for many years I stopped this sort of 
thing and was busy with books on history and 
politics, and with college work. Later on I 
gathered these sketches together and sent 
them to the pubUshers of my 'Elements of 
Pohtical Economy.' They thought I had gone 

"I therefore printed the sketches on my own 

— 8 — 


account and sold them through a news com- 
pany. We sold 3,000 copies in two months. 
In this modest form the book fell into the hands 
of my good friend — as he has since become — 
Mr. John Lane. He read the sketches on a 
steamer while returning from Montreal to 
London, and on his arrival in England he ca- 
bled me an offer to pubUsh the book in regular 
form. I cabled back, 'Accept your ofifer with 
many thanks.' Some years after Mr. Lane, 
at a dinner in London, told this incident and 
said that it proved to him that I must be the 
kind of man who would spend seventy-five 
cents in saying 'many thanks.' " 
Of "Nonsense Novels" he writes: 
"The stories in this book I wrote for a news- 
paper sjmdicate in 1910. They were not meant 
as parodies of the work of any particular author. 
They are types done in burlesque. 

"Of the many forms of humorous writings 
pure burlesque is, to my thinking, one of the 
hardest — I could almost feel like saying, the 
hardest — to do properly. It has to face the 
cruel test of whether the reader does or does 
not laugh. Other forms of humor avoid this. 
Grave friends of mine tell me that they get an 
exquisite humor, for instance, from the works 

— 9 — 


of John Milton. But I never see them laugh 
at them. They say that 'Paradise Lost' is 
saturated with humor. To me, I regret to say, 
it seems scarcely damp. 

"Burlesque, of course, beside the beauti- 
ful broad canvas of a Dickens or a Scott, shrinks 
to a poor mean rag. It is, in fact, so limited in 
scope that it is scarcely worth while. I do not 
wish for a moment to exalt it. But it appears 
to me, I repeat, a singularly difficult thing to do 
properly. It is to be remembered, of course, 
that the work of the really great humorists, 
let us say Dickens and Mark Twain, contains 
pages and pages that are in their essence bur- 

It would be possible to make quite a bulky 
volume of autobiography if one pursued the 
search through all of Mr. Leacock's writings. 
There are passages in the literary essays that 
are frankly autobiographical, and doubtless 
many of his sketches are burlesque renderings 
of personal experiences. But we shall content 
ourselves with just one more glimpse of his 
life that he has given. 

"When I was a student at the University of 
Toronto, thirty years ago, I lived, from start 
to finish, in seventeen different boarding 

— 10 — 


houses. As far as I am aware these houses 
have not, or not yet, been marked with tab- 
lets. But they are still to be found in the 
vicinity of McCaul, D'Arcy, and St. Patrick 
streets. Anyone who doubts the truth of what 
I have to say may go and look at them. 

"I was not alone in the nomadic life that I 
led. There were hundreds of us drifting 
about in this fashion from one melancholy 
habitation to another. We lived as a rule two or 
three in a house, sometimes alone. We dined 
in the basement. We always had beef, done 
up in some way after it was dead, and there 
were always soda biscuits on the table. 
They used to have a brand of soda biscuits in 
those days in the Toronto boarding houses that 
I have not seen since. They were better than 
dog biscuit, but with not so much snap. My 
contemporaries will remember them. A great 
many of the leading barristers and professional 
men of Toronto were fed on them." 

While these quotations are satisfying 
enough, they fail in several important parti- 
culars. They fail to tell that he was married in 
New York, in the "Little Church Around the 
Comer," in August of 1900, to Beatrix, 
daughter of Lieut.-Col. Hamilton, of Toronto, 

— 11 — 


and that he has one son, who was born on 
August 19, 1915, and named Stephen 
Lushinghton Leacock. 

Above all they fail to tell us what he looks 
like, so that we may recognize him when we 
see him on the street. But this omission 
can be remedied by extracts from the writings 
of his contemporaries. An open letter to 
him in the Montreal Standard has this gem : 

"I saw you in your native habitat, with your 
protective coloring all about you, and I have 
been able to pick you out ever since. 

"It was a bright August afternoon, as I 
remember, and you were honoring Lake 
Couchiching with your presence on holiday. 
You were fully clad in a suit of dungarees, 
waders, a cow-bite hat, and v/hiskers of at 
least three days wilfulness. Waist-high in 
the water you pushed ahead of you a sort of 
young scow, pausing ever and anon to curse 
a short, black pipe with a hiccup in its stem. 
The scow was loaded with stones, with which 
you calculated to build an oven in a remote 
part of the island and pretend you were an 
Indian. Even at that early date your playful 
fancy was at work." 

— 12 — 


An interviewer pictures him as follows : 
"At the minute of four I was at the Uni- 
versity club. An imposing official in an im- 
posing uniform ushered me into a still more 
imposing room. It was a big room filled with 
a chilly, academic sort of atmosphere — the 
sort of room that made you feel very small; 
that made you wonder why you ever presumed 
to seek an interview There I sat for ten 
long minutes, wondering what Leacock would 
be like, what he would deign to tell me, what 
I should dare to ask him; whether he would 
be witty or just talk in academic phrases miles 
above my head. 

"Just then the door was sort of blown open 
and the room was flooded with a bubbling 
exuberance, 'lots of fun' and all the things 
that go to dissipate an academic chilliness. 
The entrance of Stephen Leacock was re- 
sponsible. The room immediately took on his 
very human personality. It became intensely 
friendly. In a minute or so I found myself 
talking to Professor Leacock as if he had been 
a childhood friend regained after long years. 
From the first minute he impressed me as 
being 'understanding.' He seemed to laugh 
more than talk, and his eyes absolutely danced 

— 13 — 


with merriment. His conversation was every 
jot as witty as his books, and not for one 
instant did he even suggest the professor. 
Much more was he the big, happy schoolboy, 
brimful of fun, very interested in all the 
things that go to make or mar the world of 

For this picture of him we are indebted 
to an employee of the Library of McGill 
University : 

"When three o'clock came round it was no 
unusual thing to see him, a host of books and 
papers under his arm, make giant and hasty 
strides into the library to the delivery counter. 

"With the coming of 'Literary Lapses,' Dr. 
Leacock appeared before me in an altogether 
different light. His familiar figure assumed a 
new meaning. His fine, grave face, that boy's 
mop of hair which always looks as if it had 
just been washed the night before, and simply 
refused to be brushed, the deep, vibrating 
tones of his voice and his peculiar stride, had 
always appealed strongly to me." 

When Dr. Leacock was discovering England, 
English observers discovered him. One of 
them wrote his impressions as follows : 

"Nobody, we must think, could be churlish 

— 14 — 


with such a man. A ripple of laughter spreads 
round him wherever he moves; vexation 
vanishes, ill-tempered people begin to chuckle 
in spite of themselves, everybody crowds 
about him to be entertained. So it must 
happen; and it is not surprising if such a 
visitor as this has found many nice things to 
say of us. He has a way with him to soften 
the ruggedest, to rouse the most inert, and 
there is not the least credit in being jolly in 
his company. Let his impression of the 
English, therefore, be accounted to his own 
irresistibility, not to ours. Professor Lea- 
cock as an explorer, is at a certain disad- 
vantage; he can never see people as they are 
without the charm and enlivenment of his 

"What is peculiarly delightful about him, 
moreover, is that he never seems to be friendly* 
and kindly out of mere politeness. Indeed 
he is a man of whom at first sight we might 
expect to feel shy; his quizzical glances have 
a dangerous look; and sometimes we suspect 
him of meaning more than he says. His 
compliments have now and then a tweak of 

— 15 — 


Another English observer conveyed his 
impressions in this fashion : 

"Leacock was smiling all the while. He 
was smiling just before 8.30, when he stood 
in the gangway of Eltham Parish Hall, looking 
out at and up at the great audience who had 
come to greet him. Whilst the chairman was 
introducing him to the audience, Mr. Leacock 
sat and smiled, and for nearly an hour Lea- 
cock smiled like a great human sunbeam. 

"Well, if some one smiles at you and says 
nothing, you are constrained to smile back 
at him. It is a smile that invites a smile. 
Leacock must have found that out, and just 
as one tacks down an oil cloth to hold it to the 
floor, so has Stephen Leacock nailed down 
his world with that infectious, merry smile of 
his which takes one right to a merry heart and 
a merry brain. Punch once wrote of him : 

" Anyhow, I'd be as proud as a peacock 
To have inscribed on my tomb : 
He followed the footsteps of Leacock 
In banishing gloom.' 

"His laughter quietly rocks a not entirely 
giant frame, for Leacock is not a really big man. 
He just escapes being this. Perhaps to him 
the body just merely matters. About the 

— 16 — 


shoulders he is built largely and strongly, 
these shoulders heaping up slightly behind into 
the student's back. There is a not easily 
forgettable face of fairly large proportions. It 
is a live face, a kindly face. One writer has 
spoken of his shaggy locks; they are hardly 
this. A mat of closely growing hair lies all 
over the head, and it has made its way, almost 
creeper-like, far down on his broad forehead. 
There is no curl, no wave — just what one may 
call useful hair over a large, well-shaped head. 
It is a head that reminds one of that of John 
Masefield, the poet, but the faces of these two 
men are very different. 

"Does Leacock's body really matter? Not 
that we wish to convey the idea that he is 
mystic and ethereal. Body means appearance. 
Mr. Leacock wears clothes, in spite of the fact 
that he once wrote 'To Nature and Back 
again.' For dinner and lecture purposes he 
wears a form of dress which is quite careless 
and easy. It has no 'fit' in the tailor's sense 
of the word, but just that looseness which it 
should have for the fireside talk he likes so 
well. Is there the supreme insouciance of 
some professors about him? There is and 
there is not. When one looks at the highly 

— 17 — 


glossed, turned down (perhaps a touch of 
Bohemianism) collar, and neat black bow above 
the white shirt front, there is not ; but allowing 
the eyes to travel downwards to his trousers, 
one has to admit they have a peculiar vague- 
ness about the knees that can only be obtained 
by intensive scholarship." 

Since his first success as an author, Mr. 
Leacock's life has passed quietly as a pro- 
fessor at McGill, and in his summer home at 
Orillia. According to popular belief, he built 
the house in which he lives in Orillia with his 
own hands. This popular belief will be veri- 
fied or disproven before going to press, if the 
information can be dragged from him by 

Since the publication of "Literary Lapses" 
in book form, he has added a book a year to 
his rapidly growing library of humor. In 
1 92 1 he visited England on a lecturing tour, 
and officially discovered the country— re- 
cording his impressions in a book that may 
be regarded as part of his autobiography. As 
a matter of fact, the final biographer of Mr. 
Leacock will only find it necessary to select 
from his published works the material for an 
adequate record of his life. Many of his 

— 18 — 


sketches record faithfully his dealings with 
educationists, clubmen and the world in 
general. In "Fetching the Doctor" he gives 
us a glimpse of his boyhood. 

Mr. Leacock's writings have placed him so 
clearly before the public that there is little 
for a biographer to do beyond recording the 
usual facts of a quiet academic life. His 
history is written in his own books for the 
perusal of his host of admirers, who may be 
found wherever the Enghsh language is read. 

— 19 — 



HEN I go into a bank I get 
rattled . The clerks rattle me ; 
the wickets rattle me; the 
sight of the money rattles 
me; everything rattles me. 
The moment I cross the 
threshold of a bank and attempt to transact 
business there, I become an irresponsible 

I knew this beforehand, but my salary had 
been raised to fifty dollars a month, and I 
felt that the bank was the only place for it. 

So I shambled in and looked timidly round 
at the clerks. I had an idea that a person 
about to open an account must needs consult 
the manager. 

I went up to a wicket marked "Accountant." 
The accountant was a tall, cool devil. The 
very sight of him rattled me. My voice was 

"Can I see the manager?" I said, and added 

— 23 — 
S.L.— 3 


solemnly, "alone." I don't know why I said 

"Certainly," said the accountant, and 
fetched him. 

The manager was a grave, calm man. I 
held my fifty-six dollars clutched in a crum- 
pled ball in my pocket. 

"Are you the manager?" I said. God knows 
I didn't doubt it. 

"Yes," he said. 

"Can I see you," I asked, "alone?" I didn't 
want to say "alone" again, but without it the 
thing seemed self-evident. 

The manager looked at me in some alarm. 
He felt that I had an awful secret to reveal. 

"Come in here," he said, and led the way to 
a private room. He turned the key in the 

"We are safe from interruption here," he 
said; "sit down." 

We both sat down and looked at each other. 
I found no voice to speak. 

"You are one of Pinkerton's men, I pre- 
sume," he said. 

He had gathered from my mysterious man- 
ner that I was a detective. I knew what he 
was thinking, and it made me worse. 

— 24 — 


"No, not from Pinkerton's," I said, seeming 
to imply that I came from a rival agency. 

"To tell the truth," I went on, as if I had 
been prompted to lie about it, "I am not a 
detective at all. I have come to open an 
account. I intend to keep all my money in 
this bank." 

The manager looked relieved, but still 
serious ; he concluded now that I was a son of 
Baron Rothschild or a young Gould. 

"A large account, I suppose," he said. 

"Fairly large," I whispered. "I propose to 
deposit fifty-six dollars now and fifty dollars 
a month regularly." 

The manager got up and opened the door. 
He called to the accountant. 

"Mr. Montgomery," he said unkindly loud, 
"this gentleman is opening an account. He 
will deposit fifty-six dollars. Good morning." 

I rose. 

A big iron door stood open at the side of 
the room. 

"Good morning," I said, and stepped into 
the safe. 

"Come out," said the manager coldly, and 
showed me the other way. 

I v/ent up to the accountant's wicket and 

— 25 — 


poked the ball of money at him with a quick, 
convulsive movement, as if I were doing a 
conjuring trick. 

My face was ghastly pale. 

"Here," I said, "deposit it." The tone of the 
words seemed to mean, "Let us do this painful 
thing while the fit is on us." 

He took the money and gave it to another 

He made me write the sum on a slip and sign 
my name in a book. I no longer knew what I 
was doing. The bank swam before my eyes. 

"Is it deposited?" I asked in a hollow, 
vibrating voice. 

"It is," said the accountant. 

"Then I want to draw a cheque." 

My idea was to draw out six dollars of it for 
present use. Someone gave me a cheque book 
through a wicket and someone else began 
telling me how to write it out. The people in 
the bank had the impression that I was an 
invalid millionaire. I wrote something on the 
cheque and thrust it in at the clerk. He 
looked at it. 

"What! are you drawing it all out again?" 
he asked in surprise. Then I realized that 
I had written fifty-six instead of six, I was 

— 26 — 


too far gone to reason now. I had a feeling 
that it was impossible to explain the thing. 
All the clerks had stopped writing to look at me. 
Reckless with misery, I made a plunge. 

"Yes, the whole thing." 

"You withdraw your money from the bank?" 

"Every cent of it." 

"Are you not going to deposit any more?" 
said the clerk, astonished. 


An idiot hope struck me that they might think 
something had insulted me while I was 
writing the cheque, and that I had changed my 
mind. I made a wretched attempt to look 
like a man with a fearfully quick temper. 

The clerk prepared to pay the money. 

"How will you have it?" he said. 


"How will you have it?" 

"Oh" — I caught his meaning and answered 
without even trying to think — "in fifties." 

He gave me a fifty-dollar bill. 

"And the six?" he asked dryly. 

"In sixes," I said. 

He gave it me and I rushed out. 

As the big door swung behind me I caught 
the echo of a roar of laughter that went up to 

— 27 — 


the ceiling of the bank. Since then I bank no 

more. I keep my money in cash in my trousers 

pocket and my savings in silver dollars in 

a sock. 

— Literary Lapses. 

28 — 




LL boarding-houses are the 
same boarding-house. 

Boarders in the same 
boarding-house and on the 
same flat are equal to one 

A single room is that which has no parts and 
no magnitude. 

The landlady of a boarding-house is a paral- 
lelogram—that is, an oblong, angular figure, 
which cannot be described, but which is equal 
to anything. 

A wrangle is the disinclination of two 
boarders to each other that meet together but 
are not in the same Une. 

All the other rooms being taken, a single 
room is said to be a double room. 


A pie may be produced any number of times. 
The landlady can be reduced to her lowest 
terms by a series of propositions. 

— 31 — 


A bee-line may be made from any boarding- 
house to any other boarding-house. 

The clothes of a boarding-house bed, though 
produced ever so far both ways, will not meet. 

Any two meals at a boarding-house are to- 
gether less than two square meals. 

If from the opposite ends of a boarding- 
house a line be drawn passing through all the 
rooms in turn, then the stovepipe which warms 
the boarders will lie within that line. 

On the same bill and on the same side of it 
there should not be two charges for the same 

If there be two boarders on the same flat, 
and the amount of side of the one be equal to 
the amount of side of the other, each to each, 
and the wrangle between one boarder and the 
landlady be equal to the wrangle between the 
landlady and the other, then shall the weekly 
bills of the two boarders be equal also, each to 

For if not, let one bill be the greater. 

Then the other bill is less than it might have 

been — which is absurd. 

— Literary Lapses. 

— 32 — 
















T leaves the city every day 
about five o'clock in the even- 
ing, the train for Mariposa. 

Strange that you did not 
know of it, though you come 
from the little town — or did, 
long years ago. 

Odd that you never knew, in all these years, 
that the train was there every afternoon, puff- 
ing up steam in the city station, and that you 
might have boarded it any day and gone home. 
No, not "home" — of course you couldn't call 
it "home" now. "Home" means that big red 
sandstone house of yours in the costUer part of 
the city. "Home" means, in a way, this 
Mausoleum Club where you sometimes talk 
with me of the times that you had as a boy in 

But of course "home" would hardly be the 
word you would apply to the Httle town, unless 
perhaps, late at night, when you'd been sitting 

— 35 — 


reading in a quiet corner somewhere such a 
book as the present one. 

Naturally you don't know of the Mariposa 
train now. Years ago, when you first came to 
the city as a boy with your way to make, you 
knew of it well enough — only too well. The 
price of a ticket counted in those days, and 
though you knew of the train you couldn't take 
it; but sometimes from sheer homesickness 
you used to wander down to the station on a 
Friday afternoon after your work, and watch 
the Mariposa people getting on the train and 
wish that you could go. 

Why, you knew that train at one time better, 
I suppose, than any other single thing in the 
city, and loved it too for the little town in the 
sunshine that it ran to. 

Do you remember how when you first began 
to make money you used to plan just as soon 
as you were rich, really rich, you'd go back 
home again to the little town and build a great 
big house with a fine verandah — no stint about 
it, the best that money could buy — planed lum- 
ber, every square foot of it, and a fine picket 
fence in front of it ? 

It was to be one of the grandest and finest 
houses that thought could conceive; much 

— 36 — 


finer, in true reality, than that vast palace of 
sandstone with the porte cochere and the 
sweeping conservatories that you afterwards 
built in the costlier part of the city. 

But if you have half forgotten Mariposa, and 
long since lost the way to it, you are only like 
the greater part of the men here in this Mau- 
soleum Club in the city. Would you believe 
it that practically every one of them came from 
Mariposa once upon a time, and that there 
isn't one of them that doesn't sometimes dream 
in the dull quiet of the long evening here in 
the club, that some day he v/ill go back and see 
the place. 

They all do. Only they're half ashamed to 
own it. 

Ask your neighbor there at the next table 
whether the partridge that they sometimes 
serve to you here can be compared for a 
moment to the birds that he and you, or he and 
some one else, used to shoot as boys in the 
spruce thickets along the lake. Ask him if he 
ever tasted duck that could for a moment be 
compared to the black ducks in the rice marsh 
along the Ossawippi. And as for fish, and fish- 
ing — no, don't ask him about that, for if he 
ever starts telling you of the chub they used to 

— 37 — 


catch below the mill dam and the green bass 
that used to lie in the water-shadow of the 
rocks beside the Indian's Island, not even the 
long, dull evening in this club would be long 
enough for the telling of it. 

But no wonder they don't know about the 
five oclock train for Mariposa. Very few 
people know about it. Hundreds of them 
know that there is a train that goes out at five 
o'clock, but they mistake it. Ever so many of 
them think it's just a suburban train. Lots 
of people that take it every day think it's only 
the train to the golf grounds, but the joke is 
that after it passes out of the city and the 
suburbs and the golf grounds, it turns itself 
little by little into the Mariposa train, thunder- 
ing and pounding towards the north with hem- 
lock sparks pouring out into the darkness from 
the funnel of it. Of course you can't tell it 
just at first. All those people that are crowding 
into it with golf clubs, and wearing knicker- 
bockers and flat caps, would deceive anybody. 
That crowd of surburban people going home 
on commutation tickets, and sometimes stand- 
ing thick in the aisles — those are, of course, not 
Mariposa people. But look round a little bit 
and you'll find them easily enough. Here and 

— 38 — 


there in the crowd those people with the clothes 
that are perfectly all right and yet look odd in 
some way, the women with the peculiar hats 
and the — what do you say? — last year's 
fashions? Ah yes, of course, that must be it. 

Anyway, those are the Mariposa people all 
right enough. That man with the two dollar 
panama and the glaring spectacles is one of 
the greatest judges that ever adorned the 
bench of Missinaba county. That clerical 
gentleman with the wide black hat, who is ex- 
plaining to the man with him the marvellous 
mechanism of the new air brake (one of the 
most conspicuous illustrations of the divine 
structure of the physical universe), surely you 
have seen him before. Mariposa people! 
Oh yes, there are any number of them on the 
train every day. 

But of course you hardly recognize them 
while the train is still passing through the sub- 
urbs and the golf district and the outlying parts 
of the city area. But v/ait a little, and you will 
see that when the city is well behind you, bit 
by bit the train changes its character. The 
electric locomotive that took you through the 
city tunnels is ofif now and the old wood engine 
is hitched on in its place. I suppose, very 

—39 — 

S.L.— 4 


probably, you haven't seen one of these wood 
engines since you were a boy forty years ago — 
the old engine with a wide top like a hat on its 
funnel, and with sparks enough to light up a 
suit for damages once in every mile. 

Do you see, too, that the trim little cars that 
came out of the city on the electric suburban 
express are being discarded now at the way 
stations, one by one, and in their place is the 
old familiar car with the stuff cushions in red 
plush (how gorgeous it once seemed !) and with 
a box stove set up in one end of it? The stove 
is burning furiously at its sticks this autumn 
evening, for the air sets in chill as you get clear 
away from the city and are rising up to the 
higher ground of the country of the pines and 
the lakes. 

Look from the window as you go. The city 
is far behind now and right and left of you 
there are trim farms with elms and maples 
near them and with tall windmills beside the 
barns that you can still see in the gathering 
dusk. There is a dull red light from the win- 
dows of the farmstead. It must be comfort- 
able there after the roar and clatter of the city, 
and only think of the still quiet of it ! 

As you sit back half dreaming in the car, you 

— 40 — 


keep wondering why it is that you never came 
up before in all these years. Ever so many 
times you planned that just as soon as the rush 
and strain of business eased up a little, you 
would take the train and go back to the little 
town to see what it was like now, and if things 
had changed much since your day. But each 
time when your holidays came, somehow you 
changed your mind and went down to Nara- 
gansett or Nagahuckett or Nagasomething, 
and left over the visit to Mariposa for another 

It is ahnost night now. You can still see the 
trees and the fences and the farm-steads, but 
they are fading fast in the twilight. They have 
lengthened out the train by this time with a 
string of flat cars and freight cars between 
where we are sitting and the engine. But at 
every crossway we can hear the long, muffled 
roar of the whistle, dying to a melancholy 
wail that echoes into the woods ; the woods, I 
say, for the farms are thinning out and the 
track plunges here and there into great 
stretches of bush — tall tamarack and red scrub 
willow, and with a tangled undergrowth of 
brush that has defied for two generations all 
attempts to clear it into the form of fields. 

— 41 — 


Why, look — that great space that seems to 
open out in the half-dark of the falling evening 
why, surely yes — Lake Ossawippi, the big lake, 
as they used to call it, from which the river 
runs down to the smaller lake. Lake Wissa- 
notti, where the town of Mariposa has lain 
waiting for you there for thirty years. 

This is Lake Ossawippi surely enough. You 
would know it anywhere by the broad, still, 
black water with hardly a ripple, and with the 
grip of the coming frost already on it. Such 
a great sheet of blackness it looks as the train 
thunders along the side, swinging the curve of 
the embankment at a breakneck speed as it 
rounds the corner of the lake. 

How fast the train goes this autumn night! 
You have travelled, I know you have, in the 
Empire State Express, and the New Limited 
and the Maritime Express that holds the record 
of six hundred whirling miles from Paris to 
Marseilles. But what are they to this— this 
mad career, this breakneck speed, this thun- 
dering roar of the Mariposa local driving hard 
to its home ! Don't tell me that the speed is 
only twenty-five miles an hour. I don't care 
what it is. I tell you, and you can prove it for 
yourself if you will, that that train of mingled 

— 42 — 


flat cars and coaches that goes tearing into the 
night, its engine whistle shrieking out its warn- 
ing into the silent woods and echoing over the 
dull, still lake, is the fastest train in the whole 

Yes, and the best, too — the most comfort- 
able, the most reliable, the most luxurious 
and the speediest train that ever turned a 

And the most genial, the most sociable too. 
See how the passengers all turn and talk to 
one another now as they get nearer and nearer 
to the little town. That dull reserve that 
seemed to hold the passengers in the electric 
suburban has clean vanished and gone. They 
are talking^listen — of the harvest, and the 
late election, and of how the local member is 
mentioned for the Cabinet and all the old fami- 
liar topics of the sort. Already the conductor 
has changed his glazed hat for an ordinary 
round Christie, and you can hear the passen- 
gers calling him and the brakesman "Bill" and 
"Sam," as if they were all one family. 

What is it now— nine-thirty? Ah, then we 
must be nearing the town — this big bush that 
we are passing through: you remember it 
surely as the great swamp just this side of the 



bridge over the Ossawippi? There is the 
bridge itself, and the long roar of the train as 
it rushes sounding over the trestle work that 
rises above the marsh. Hear the clatter as we 
pass the semaphores and the switch lights! 
We must be close in now! 

What? — it feels nervous and strange to be 
coming here again after all these years? It 
must, indeed. No, don't bother to look at the 
reflection of your face in the window-pane, 
shadowed by the night outside. Nobody 
could tell you now after all these years. Your 
face has changed in these long years of money- 
getting in the city. Perhaps if you had come 
back now and again, just at odd times, it 
wouldn't have been so. 

There — you hear it? — the long whistle of the 
locomotive, one, two, three! You feel the 
sharp slackening of the train as it swings round 
the curve of the last embankment that brings 
it to the Mariposa station. See, too, as we 
round the curve, the row of the flashing lights, 
the bright windows of the depot. 

How vivid and plain it all is. Just as it used 
to be thirty years ago. There is the string of 
the hotel 'buses, drawn up all ready for the 
train, and as the train rounds in and stops 

— 44 — 


hissing and panting at the platform, you can 
hear above all other sounds the cry of the 
brakesmen and the porters : 


And as we listen, the cry grows fainter and 
fainter in our ears and we are sitting here 
again in the leather chairs of the Mausoleum 
Club, talking of the httle T own in the Sunshine 
that once we knew. 

— Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. 

— 45 — 











OME," said Mr. Newberry; 
'*there are Mrs. Newberry 
and the girls on the veran- 
dah. Let's go and join them." 
A few minutes later Mr. 
y Spillikins was talking with 
Mrs. Newberry and Dulphemia Rasselyer- 
Brown, and telling Mrs. Newberry what 
a beautiful house she had. Beside them 
stood Philippa Furlong, and she had her 
arm around Dulphemia's waist; and the 
picture that they thus made, with their 
heads close together, Dulphemia's hair being 
golden and Philippa's chestnut-brown, was 
such that Mr. Spillikins had no eyes for Mrs. 
Newberry nor for Castel Casteggio, nor for 
anything. So much so that he practically 
didn't see at all the little girl in green who 
stood unobtrusively on the further side of Mrs. 
Newberry. Indeed, though somebody had 
murmured her name in introduction, he 
couldn't have repeated it if asked two minutes 

— 49 — 


afterwards. His eyes and his mind were else- 

But hers were not. 

For the Little Girl in Green looked at Mr. 
Spillikins with wide eyes, and when she looked 
at him she saw all at once such wonderful 
things about him as nobody had ever seen 

For she could see from the poise of his head 
how awfully clever he was ; and from the way 
he stood with his hands in his side pockets 
she could see how manly and brave he must be ; 
and of course there was firmness and strength 
written all over him. In short, she saw as 
she looked such a Peter Spillikins as truly 
never existed, or could exist — or at least such 
a Peter Spillikins as no one else in the world 
had ever suspected before. 

All in a moment she was ever so glad that she 
accepted Mrs. Newberry's invitation to Castel 
Casteggio and hadn't been afraid to come. 
For the Little Girl in Green, whose Christian 
name was Norah, was only what is called a poor 
relation of Mrs. Newberry, and her father 
was a person of no account whatever, who 
didn't belong to the Mausoleum Club or to any 
other club, and who lived, with Norah, on a 

— 50 — 


street that nobody who was anybody lived upon. 
Norah had been asked up a few days before 
out of the city to give her air — which is the 
only thing that can be safely and freely given 
to poor relations. Thus she had arrived at 
Castel Casteggio with one diminutive trunk, 
so small and shabby that even the servants 
who carried it upstairs were ashamed of it. 
In it were a pair of brand new tennis shoes 
(at ninety cents reduced to seventy-five), and 
a white dress of the kind that is called "almost 
evening," and such few other things as poor 
relations might bring with fear and trembling, 
to join in the simple rusticity of the rich. 

Thus stood Norah, looking at Mr. Spillikins. 

As for him, such is the contrariety of human 
things, he had no eyes for her at all. 

"What a perfectly charming house this is," 
Mr. Spillikins was saying. He always said 
this on such occasions, but it seemed to the 
Little Girl in Green that he spoke with wonder- 
ful social ease. 

"I am so glad you think so," said Mrs. New- 
berry (this was what she always answered). 

The whole thing from the point of view of 
— 51 — 


Mr. Spillikins or Dulphemia or Philippa re- 
presented rusticity itself. 

To the Little Girl in Green it seemed as 
brilliant as the Court of Versailles, especially 
evening dinner — a plain home meal, as the 
others thought it — when she had four glasses to 
drink out of and used to wonder over such prob- 
lems as whether you were supposed, when 
Franklin poured out wine, to tell him to stop or 
to wait till he stopped without being told to stop, 
and other similar mysteries, such as people 
before and after have meditated upon. 

During all this tim^e Mr. Spillikins was nerv- 
ing himself to propose to Dulphemia Rasselyer- 
Brown. In fact, he spent part of his time 
walking up and down under the trees with 
Philippa Furlong and discussing with her the 
proposal that he meant to make, together with 
such topics as marriage in general and his own 

He might have waited indefinitely had he 
not learned, on the third day of his visit, that 
Dulphemia was to go away in the morning 
to join her father at Nagahakett. 

That evening he found the necessary nerve 
to speak, and the proposal in almost every 
aspect of it was most successful. 

— 52 — 


"By Jove!" Spillikins said to PhiUppa Fur- 
long next morning, in explaining what had 
happened, "she was awfully nice about it. I 
think she must have guessed, in a way, don't 
you, what I was going to say? But at any rate 
she was awfully nice — let me say everjrthing 
I wanted, and when I explained what a fool I 
was, she said she didn't think I was half such 
a fool as people thought me. But it's all right. 
It turns out that she isn't thinking of getting 
married. I asked her if I might always go on 
thinking of her, and she said I might." 

And that morning, when Dulphemia was 
carried off in the motor to the station, Mr. 
Spillikins, without exactly being aware how he 
had done it, had somehow transferred him- 
self to PhiUppa. 

"Isn't she a splendid girl?" he said at least 
ten times a day to Norah, the Little Girl in 
Green. And Norah always agreed, because 
she really thought PhiUppa a perfectly wonder- 
ful creature. 

There is no doubt that, but for a slight shift 
of circumstances, Mr. SpiUikins would have 
proposed to Miss Furlong. Indeed, he spent 
a good part of his time rehearsing Uttle 
speeches that began, "Of course I know I'm 

— 53 — 


an awful ass in a way," or, "Of course I know 
that I'm not at all the sort of fellow," and so on. 

But not one of them ever was delivered. 

For it so happened that on the Thursday, 
one week after Mr. Spillikin's arrival, Philippa 
went again to the station in the motor. And 
when she came back there was another passen- 
ger with her, a tall young man in tweed, and 
they both began calling out to the Newberrys 
from a distance of at least a hundred yards. 

And both the Newberrys suddenly exclaimed 
"Why, it's Tom!" and rushed off to meet the 
motor. And there was such a laughing and 
jubilation as the two descended and carried 
Tom's valises to the verandah, that Mr. Spilli- 
kins felt as suddenly and completely out of it 
as the Little Girl in Green herself — especially 
as his ear had caught, among the first things 
said, the words, "Congratulate us, Mrs. New- 
berry, we're engaged." 

After which Mr. Spillikins had the pleasure 
of sitting and listening while it was explained, 
in wicker chairs on the verandah, that Philippa 
and Tom had been engaged already for ever 
so long — in fact, nearly two weeks — only they 
had agreed not to say a word to anybody till 

— 54 — 


Tom had gone to North Carolina and back to 
see his people. 

So the next day Tom and Philippa vanished 

"We shall be quite a small party now," 
said Mrs. Newberry; "in fact, quite by our- 
selves till Mrs. Everleigh comes, and she 
won't be here for a fortnight." 

At which the heart of the Little Girl in Green 
was glad, because she had been afraid that 
other girls might be coming, whereas she 
knew that Mrs. Everleigh was a widow with 
four sons and must be ever so old — past forty. 

The next few days were spent by Mr. Spilli- 
kins almost entirely in the society of Norah. 
He thought them on the whole rather pleasant 
days, but slow. To her they were an unin- 
terrupted dream of happiness never to be for- 

The Newberrys left them to themselves; 
not with any intent; it was merely that they 
were perpetually busy walking about the 
grounds of Castel Casteggio, blowing up things 
with dynamite, throwing steel bridges over 

— 55 — 

S.L.— 5 


gullies, and hoisting heavy timber with der- 

They left Peter and Norah to themselves all 
day. Even after dinner, in the evening, Mr. 
Newberry was very apt to call to his wife in the 
dusk from some distant corner of the lawn. 

"Margaret, come over here and tell me if 
you don't think we might cut down this elm, 
tear the stump out by the roots, and throw it 
into the ravine." 

And the answer was, " One minute, Edward ; 
just wait till I get a wrap." 

Before they came back the dusk had grown 
to darkness, and they had redynamited half 
the estate. 

During all of which time Mr. Spillikins sat 
with Norah on the piazza. He talked and she 
listened. He told her, for instance, all about 
his terrific experiences in the oil business, and 
about his exciting career at college; or pre- 
sently they went indoors, and Norah played 
the piano, and Mr. Spillikins sat and smoked 
and listened. In such a house as the New- 
berry's, where dynamite and the greater ex- 
plosives were every-day matters, a little thing 

— 56 — 


like the use of tobacco in the drawing-room 
didn't count. As for the music, **Go right 
ahead," said Mr. Spilhkins; "I'm not musical, 
but I don't mind music a bit." 

In the daytime they played tennis. There 
was a court at one end of the lawn beneath 
the trees, all chequered with sunlight and 
mingled shadow; very beautiful, Norah 
thought, though Mr. Spillikins explained that 
the spotted light put him off his game. In 
fact, it was owing entirely to this bad light 
that Mr. Spilhkins' fast drives, wonderful 
though they were, somehow never got inside 
the service court. 

Norah, of course, thought Mr. Spillikins 
a wonderful player. She was glad— in fact 
it suited them both— v/hen he beat her six 
to nothing. She didn't know and didn't care 
that there was no one else in the world that 
Mr. Spillikins could beat like that. Once he 
even said to her, 

"By Gad! you don't play half a bad game, 
you know. I think, you know, with practice 
you'd come on quite a lot." 

After that the games were understood to be 
more or less in the form of lessons, which put 
Mr. Spillikins on a pedestal of superiority, 

— 57 — 


and allowed any bad strokes on his part to be 
viewed as a form of indulgence. 

Also, as the tennis was viewed in this light, 
it was Norah's part to pick up the balls at the 
net and throw them back to Mr. Spillikins. 
He let her do this, not from rudeness, for it 
wasn't in him, but because in such a primeval 
place as Castel Casteggio the natural primi- 
tive relation of the sexes is bound to reassert 

But of love Mr. Spillikins never thought. 
He had viewed it so eagerly and so often from 
a distance that when it stood here modestly 
at his very elbow he did not recognize its 
presence. His mind had been fashioned, as 
it were, to connect love with something stun- 
ning and sensational, with Easter hats and 
harem skirts and the luxurious consciousness 
of the unattainable. 

Even at that, there is no knowing what might 
have happened. Tennis, in the chequered 
light of sun and shadow cast by summer 
leaves, is a dangerous game. There came a 
day when they were standing one each side of 
the net, and Mr. Spillikins was explaining to 
Norah the proper way to hold a racquet so as 
to be able to give those magnificent backhand 

— 58 — 


sweeps of his, by which he generally drove the 
ball half-way to the lake; and explaining this 
involved putting his hand right over Norah's 
on the handle of the racquet, so that for just 
half a second her hand was clasped tight in his ; 
and if that half-second had been lengthened 
out into a whole second it is quite possible that 
what was already subconscious in his mind 
would have broken its way triumphantly to the 
surface, and Norah's hand would have stayed 
in his, how willingly ! — for the rest of their two 

But just at tliat moment Mr. Spillikins 
looked up, and he said in quite an altered tone, 

"By Jove ! who's that awfully good-looking 
woman getting out of the motor?" 

And their hands unclasped. Norah looked 
over towards the house and said, 

"Why, it's Mrs. Everleigh. I thought she 
wasn't coming for another week." 

"I say," said Mr. Spillikins, straining his 
short sight to the uttermost, "what perfectly 
wonderful golden hair, eh?" 

"Why, it's — " Norah began, and then she 
stopped. It didn't seem right to explain that 
Mrs. Everleigh's hair was dyed. 

— 59 — 


"I didn't know she was coming so soon," 
she said, and there was weariness already in 
her heart. Certainly she didn't know it ; still 
less did she know, or any one else, that the 
reason of Mrs. Everleigh's coming was because 
Mr. Spillikins was there. She came with a 
set purpose. 

"Oughtn't we to go to the house?" she added. 

"All right," said Mr. Spillikins with great 
alacrity, "let's go." 

There is no need to pursue in detail the 
stages of Mr. Spillikins' wooing. Its course 
was swift and happy. Mr. Spillikins, having 
seen the back of Mrs. Everleigh's head, had 
decided instanter that she was the most beauti- 
ful woman in the world ; and that impression is 
not easily corrected in the half-light of a shaded 
drawing room ; nor across a dinner-table lighted 
only with candles with deep red shades; 
nor even in the daytime through a veil. In 
any case, it is only fair to state that if Mrs. 
Everleigh was not and is not a singularly 
beautiful woman, Mr. Spillikins still doesn't 
know it. 

• ••••• 

— 60 — 


So the course of Mr. Spillikins' love, for love 
it must have been, ran swiftly to its goal. 
Each stage of it was duly marked by his com- 
ments to Norah. 

"She is a splendid woman," he said; "so 
sympathetic. She always seems to know 
just what one is going to say." 

So she did, for she was making him say it. 

"By Jove!" he said, a day later, "Mrs. Ever- 
leigh's an awfully fine woman, isn't she? I 
was telling her about my having been in the 
oil business for a little while, and she thinks 
that I'd really be awfully good in money things. 
She said she wished she had me to manage 
her money for her." 

This also was quite true, except that Mrs. 
Everleigh had not made it quite clear that the 
management of her money was of the form 
generally known as deficit financing. In fact, 
her money was, very crudely stated, non- 
existent, and it needed a lot of management. 

And very soon after that Mr. SpilHkins was 
saying, with quite a quaver in his voice, 

"By Jove! yes, I'm awfully lucky; I never 
thought for a moment that she'd have me, you 

— Gl — 


know — a woman like her, with so much atten- 
tion and everything. I can't imagine what 
she sees in me." 

Which was just as well. 

And then Mr. Spillikins checked himself, 
for he noticed — this was on the verandah in 
the morning — that Norah had a hat and a 
jacket on and that the motor was rolling to- 
wards the door. 

"I say," he said, "are you going away?" 

"Yes, didn't you know?" Norah said, "I 
thought you heard them speaking of it at din- 
ner last night. I have to go home ; father's 
alone, you know." 

"Oh, I'm av/fully sorry," said Mr. Spilli- 
kins; "we shan't have any more tennis." 

"Good-bye," said Norah, and as she said it 
and put out her hand there were tears brim- 
ming up into her eyes. But Mr. Spillikins, 
being short of sight, didn't see them. 

"Good-bye," he said. 

Then, as the motor carried her away, he 
stood for a moment in a sort of reverie. Per- 
haps certain things that might have been rose 
unformed and inarticulate before his mind. 

And so m the fulness of time — nor was it so 
— 62 — 


very full either, in fact, only about five weeks — 
Peter Spillikins and Mrs. Everleigh were 
married in St. Asaph's Church on Plutoria Ave. 
And the wedding was one of the most beauti- 
ful and sumptuous of the weddings of the 
September season. There were flowers, and 
bridesmaids in long veils, and tall ushers in 
frock coats, and awnings at the church door, 
and strings of motors with wedding favors, 
and imported chauffeurs, and all that goes to 
invest marriage on Plutoria Avenue with its 
peculiar sacredness. The face of the young 
rector, Mr. Fareforth Furlong, wore the added 
saintliness that springs from a five-hundred 
dollar fee. The whole town was there, or at 
least everybody that was anybody; and if 
there was one person absent, one who sat by 
herself in a darkened drawing room of a dull 
little house on a shabby street, who knew or 


— Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich. 

63 — 





AN you give me a job?" 

The foreman of the brick- 
layers looked down from the 
scaffold to the speaker below. 
Something in the lad's up- 
turned face appealed to the 
man. He threw a brick at him. 

It was Hezekiah Hayloft. He was all in 
homespun. He carried a carpet-bag in each 
hand. He had come to New York, the cruel 
city, looking for work. 

Hezekiah moved on. Presently he stopped 
in front of a policeman. 

"Sir," he said, "can you tell me the way to — " 
The policeman struck him savagely across 
the side of the head. 

"I'll learn you," he said, "to ask damn fool 
questions — " 

Again Hezekiah moved on. In a few 

— 67 


moments he met a man whose tall black hat, 
black waistcoat and white tie proclaimed him 
a clergyman. 

"Good sir," said Hezekiah, "can you tell 
me — " 

The clergyman pounced upon him with a 
growl of a hyena, and bit a piece out of his ear. 
Yes, he did, reader. Just imagine a clergy- 
man biting a boy in open daylight! Yet that 
happens in New York every minute. 

Such is the great, cruel city — and imagine 
looking for work in it. You and I who spend 
our tune in trying to avoid work can hardly 
realize what it must mean. Think how it must 
feel to be alone in New York, without a friend 
or a relation at hand, with no one to know or 
care what you do. It must be great ! 

For a few moments Hezekiah stood irreso- 
lute. He looked about him. He looked up at 
the top of the Metropolitan Tower. He saw no 
work there. He looked across at the sky-scra- 
pers on Madison Square, but his eye detected 
no work in any of them. He stood on his head 
and looked up at the Flat-iron building. Still 
no work in sight. 

All that day and the next Hezekiah looked 
for work. 

— 68 — 


A Wall Street firm had advertised for a steno- 

"Can you write shorthand?" they said. 

"No," said the boy in homespun, "but I can 

They threw him down the elevator. 

Hezekiah was not discouraged. That day 
he applied for fourteen jobs. ^ 

The Waldorf-Astoria was in need of a chef. 
Hezekiah applied for the place. 

"Can you cook?" they said. 

"No," said Hezekiah, "but oh, sir, give me a 
trial, give me an egg and let me try — I will try 
so hard." Great tears rolled down the boy's 

They rolled him out into the corridor. 

Next he applied for a job as a telegrapher. 
His mere ignorance of telegraphy was made 
the ground of refusal. 

At nightfall Hezekiah Hayloft grew hungry. 
He entered again the portico of the Waldorf- 
Astoria. Within it stood a tall man in uniform. 

"Boss," said the boy hero, "will you trust me 
for the price of a square meal?" 

They set the dog on him. 

Such, reader, is the hardness and bitterness 
of the Great City. 

— 69 — 


For fourteen weeks Hezekiah Hayloft looked 
for work. Once or twice he obtained tem- 
porary employment, only to lose it again. 

For a few days he was made accountant in 
a trust company. He was discharged because 
he would not tell a lie. For about a week he 
held a position as cashier in a bank. They 
discharged the 1^1 because he refused to forge 
a cheque. For three days he held a conductor- 
ship on a Broadway surface car. He was dis- 
missed from this business for refusing to steal 
a nickel. 

Such, reader, is the horrid degradation of 
business life in New York. 

Meanthne the days passed and still Hayloft 
found no work. His stock of money was ex- 
hausted. He had not had any money anyway. 
For food he ate grass in Central Park and 
drank the water from the Cruelty to Animals 

Gradually a change came over the lad; his 
face grew hard and stern; the great city was 
setting its mark upon him. 

One night Hezekiah stood upon the side- 
walk. It was late— long after ten o'clock. 
Only a few chance pedestrians passed. 

"By Heaven!" said Hezekiah, shaking his 

— 70 — 


fist at the lights of the cruel city, "I have ex- 
hausted fair means, I will try foul. I will beg. 
No Hayloft has been a beggar yet," he added, 
with a bitter laugh, "but I will begin." 

A well-dressed man passed along. 

Hezekiah seized him by the throat. 

"What do you want?" cried the man in sud- 
den terror. "Don't ask me for work. I tell 
you I have no work to give." 

"I don't want work," said Hezekiah grimly. 
"I am a beggar." 

"Oh! is that all," said the man, relieved. 
"Here, take this ten dollars and go and buy a 
drink with it." 

Money ! money ! and with it a new sense of 
power that rushed like an intoxicant to Heze- 
kiah' s brain. 

"Drink," he muttered hoarsely , "yes, drink." 

The lights of a soda-water fountain struck 
his eye. 

"Give me an egg phosphate," he said, as he 
dashed his money on the counter. He drank 
phosphate after phosphate till his brain reeled. 
Mad with the liquor, he staggered to and fro 
in the shop, weighed himself recklessly on the 
slot machine three or four times, tore out 
chewing gum and matches from the automatic 

— 71 — 



nickel boxes, and finally staggered on to the 
street, reeling from the effects of thirteen 
phosphates and a sarsaparilla soda. 

"Crime," he hissed. "Crime, crime, that's 
what I want." 

He noticed that the passers-by made way for 
him now with respect. On the corner of the 
street a policeman was standing. 

Hezekiah picked up a cobblestone, tlirew 
it, and struck the man full on the ear. 

The policeman smiled at him roguishly, and 
then gently wagged his finger in reproof. It 
was the same policeman who had struck him 
fourteen weeks before for asking the way. 

Hezekiah moved on, still full of his new idea 
of crime. Down the street was a novelty shop, 
the window decked with New Year's gifts. 

"Sell me a revolver," he said. 

"Yes, sir, "said the salesman. "Would you 
like something for evening wear, or a plain kind 
for home use. Here's a very good family 
revolver, or would you like a roof -garden size?" 

Hezekiah selected a revolver and went out. 

"Now then," he muttered, "I will burglarize 
a house and get money." 

Walking across to Fifth Avenue he selected 
one of the finest residences and rang the bell. 

— 72 — 


A man in livery appeared in the brightly- 
lighted hall. 

" Where is your master? " Hezekiah asked, 
showing his revolver. 

"He is upstairs, sir, counting his money," 
the man answered, "but he dislikes being dis- 

"Show me to him," said Hezekiah, "l wish 
to shoot him and take his money." 

"Very good sir," said the man, deferentially. 
"You will find him on the first floor." 

Hezekiah turned and shot the footman twice 
through the livery and went upstairs. In an 
upper room was a man sitting at a desk under 
a reading lamp. In front of him was a pile of 
gold. He was an old man, with a fooUsh, 
benevolent face. 

"What are you doing?" said Hezekiah. 

"I am counting my money," said the man. 

"What are you?" asked Hezekiah sternly. 

"I am a philanthropist," said the man. "I 
give my money to deserving objects. I estab- 
lish medals for heroes. I give prizes for ship 
captains who jump into the sea, and for fire- 
men who throw people from the windows of 
upper stories at the risk of their own; I send 
American missionaries to China, Chinese mis- 

— 73 — 


sionaries to India, and Indian missionaries to 
Chicago. I set aside money to keep college 
professors from starving to death when they 
deserve it." 

"Stop!" said Hezekiah, "you deserve to die. 
Stand up. Open your mouth and shut your 

The old man stood up. 

There was a loud report. The philanthro- 
pist fell. He was shot through the waistcoat 
and his suspenders were cut to ribbons. 

Hezekiah, his eyes glittering with the mania 
of crime, crammed his pockets with gold pieces. 

There was a roar and a hubbub in the street 

"The police!" Hezekiah muttered. "I must 
set fire to the house and escape in the con- 

He struck a safety match and held it to the 
leg of the table. 

It was a fireproof table and refused to burn. 
He held it to the door. The door was fire- 
proof. He applied it to the bookcase. He ran 
the match along the books. They were all 
fireproof. Ever5rthing was fireproof. 

Frenzied with rage, he tore off his celluloid 
collar and set fire to it. He waved it above his 

— 74 — 


head. Great tongues of flame swept from 
the windows. 

*'Fire ! Fire ! " was the cry. 

Hezekiah rushed to the door and threw the 
blazing collar down the elevator shaft. In a 
moment the iron elevator, with its steel ropes, 
burst into a mass of flame ; then the brass fit- 
tings of the doors took fire, and in a moment 
the cement floor of the elevator was one roar- 
ing mass of flame. Great columns of smoke 
burst from the building. 

"Fire ! Fire ! " shouted the crowd. 

Reader, have you ever seen a fire in a great 
city? The sight is a wondrous one. One 
realizes that, vast and horrible as the city is, 
it nevertheless shows its human organization 
in its most perfect form. 

Scarcely had the fire broken out before 
resolute efforts were made to stay its progress. 
Long lines of men passed buckets of water from 
hand to hand. 

The water was dashed on the fronts of the 
neighboring houses, thrown all over the street, 
splashed against the telegraph poles, and 
poured in torrents over the excited crowd. 
Every place in the neighbourhood of the fire 
was literally soaked. The men worked with 

— 75 — 


a will. A derrick rapidly erected in the street 
reared itself to the height of sixteen or seven- 
teen feet. A daring man mounted on the top 
of it, hauled bucket after bucket of water on 
the pulley. Balancing himself with the cool 
daring of the trained fireman, he threw the 
water in all directions over the crowd. 

The fire raged for an hour. Hezekiah, 
standing at an empty window amid the flames, 
rapidly filled his revolver and emptied it into 
the crowd. 

From one hundred revolvers in the street a 
fusillade was kept up in return. 

This lasted for an hour. Several persons 
were almost hit by the rain of bullets, which 
would have proved fatal had they struck any 

Meantime, as the flames died down, a squad 
of policemen rushed into the doomed building. 

Hezekiah threw aside his revolver and re- 
ceived them with folded arms. 

"Hayloft," said the chief of police, "I arrest 
you for murder, burglary, arson, and conspir- 
acy. You put up a splendid fight, old man, 
and I am only sorry that it is our painful duty 
to arrest you." 

As Hayloft appeared below a great cheer 

— 76 — 


went up from the crowd. True courage always 
appeals to the heart of the people. 

Hayloft was put in a motor and whirled 
rapidly to the police station. 

On the way the chief handed him a flask and 
a cigar. 

They chatted over the events of the evening. 

Hayloft realized that a new life had opened 
for him. He was no longer a despised outcast. 
He had entered the American criminal class. 

At the poUce station the chief showed Heze- 
kiah to his room. 

"I hope you will like this room," he said, a 
little anxiously. "It is the best that I can give 
you to-night. To-morrow I can give you a room 
with a bath, but at such short notice I am sure 
you will not mind putting up with this." 

He said good-night and shut the door. In 
a moment he reappeared. 

"About breakfast?" he said. "Would you 
rather have it in your room, or will you join 
us at our table d'hote! The force are most 
anxious to meet you." 

Next morning, before Hezekiah was up, 
the chief brought to his room a new outfit of 
clothes — a silk hat, frock-coat, shepherd's- 
plaid trousers and varnished boots with spats. 

— 77 — 


"You won't mind accepting these things, 
Mr. Hayloft. Our force would like very much 
to enable you to make a suitable appearance in 
the court." 

Carefully dressed and shaved, Hezekiah 
descended. He was introduced to the leading 
officials of the force, and spent a pleasant hour 
of chat over a cigar, discussing the incidents 
of the night before. 

In the course of the morning a number of 
persons called to meet and congratulate Heze- 

"I want to tell you, Sir," said the editor of 
a great American daily, "that your work of last 
night will be known and commented on all 
over the States. Your shooting of the footman 
was a splendid piece of nerve, sir, and will do 
much in defence of the unwritten law." 

"Mr. Hayloft," said another caller, "I am 
sorry not to have met you sooner. Our friends 
here tell me that you have been in New York 
for some months. I regre,t, sir, that we did 
not know you. This is the name of my firm, 
Mr. Hayloft. We are leading lawyers here, 
and we want the honor of defending you. We 
may? Thank you, sir. And now, as we have 
still an hour or two before the court, I want to 

— 78 — 


run you up to my house in my motor. My 
wife is very anxious to have a little luncheon 
for you." 

The court met that afternoon. There was a 
cheer as Hezekiah entered. 

"Mr. Hayloft," said the judge, "I am ad- 
journing this court for a few days. From what 
I hear the nerve strain that you have under- 
gone must have been most severe. Your 
friends tell me that you can hardly be in a state 
to take a proper interest in the case till you 
have had a thorough rest." 

As Hayloft left the court a cheer went up 
from the crowd, in which the judge joined. 

The next few days were busy days for Heze- 
kiah, filled with receptions, civic committees, 
and the preparation of the brief in which Heze- 
kiah' s native intelhgence excited the admira- 
tion of the lawyers. 

Newspaper men sought for interviews. 
Business promoters called upon Hezekiah. 
His name was put down as a director of several 
leading companies, and it was rumored that in 
the event of his acquittal he would undertake 
a merger of all the great burglar protection 
corporations of the United States. 

The trial opened a week later, and lasted 

— 79 — 


two months. Hezekiah was indicted on five 
charges — arson, for having burned the steel 
cage of the elevator ; misdemeanour, for shoot- 
ing the footman ; the theft of the money, petty 
larceny; the killing of the philanthropist, 
infanticide ; and the shooting at the police with- 
out hitting them, aggravated felony. 

The proceedings were very complicated — 
expert evidence was taken from all over the 
United States. An analjrtical examination 
was made of the brain of the philanthropist. 
Nothing was found. 

The entire jury were dismissed three times 
on the grounds of prejudice, twice on the 
ground of ignorance, and finally disbanded on 
the ground of insanity. 

The proceedings dragged on. 

Meantune Hezekiah's business interests 

At length, at Hezekiah's own suggestion, it 
was necessary to abandon the case. 

"Gentlemen," he said, in his final speech 
to the court, "I feel that I owe an apology for 
not being able to attend these proceedings any 
further. At any time, when I can snatch an 
hour or two from my business, you may always 
count on my attendance. In the meantime, 

— 80 — 


rest assured that I shall follow your proceed- 
ings with the greatest interest." 

He left the room amid three cheers and the 
singing of "Auld Lang Syne." 

After that the case dragged hopelessly on 
from stage to stage. 

The charge of arson was met by a nolle 
prosequi. The accusation of theft was stopped 
by a ne plus ultra. The kiUing of the foot- 
man was pronounced justifiable insanity. 

The accusation of murder for the death of 
the philanthropist was withdrawn by common 
consent. Damages in error were awarded to 
Hayloft for the loss of his revolver and cart- 
ridges. The main body of the case was carried 
on a writ of certiorari to the Federal Courts 
and appealed to the Supreme Court of the 
United States. 

It is there still. 

Meantime, Hezekiah, as managing director 

of the Burglars' Security Corporation, remains 

one of the rising generation of financiers in 

New York, with every prospect of election to 

the State Senate. 

— Nonsense Novels. 

— 81 — 



NE generally saw old Mr. 
Doomer looking gloomily 
out of the v/indows of the 
library of the club. If not 
there, he was to be found 
staring sadly into the embers 
of a dying fire in a deserted sitting-room. 

His gloom always appeared out of place, 
as he was one of the richest of the members. 
But the cause of it — as I came to know- 
was that he was perpetually concerned with 
thinking about the next world. In fact, he 
spent his whole time brooding over it. 

I discovered this accidentally by happening 
to speak to him of the recent death of Podge, 
one of our fellow members. 

"Very sad," I said, "Podge's death." 
"Ah," returned Mr. Doomer, "very shock- 
ing. He was quite unprepared to die." 

"Do you think so?" I said. "I'm awfully 
sorry to hear it." 

— 85 — 


"Quite unprepared," he answered. "I 
had reason to know it as one of his executors, 
Ever3rthing in confusion — nothing signed, no 
proper power of attorney, codicils drawn up in 
blank and never witnessed; in short, sir, no 
sense apparently of the nearness of his death 
and of his duty to be prepared." 

"I suppose," I said, "poor Podge didn't 
realize that he was going to die." 

"Ah, that's just it," resumed Mr. Doomer, 
with something like sternness, "a man ought 
to realize it. Every man ought to feel that at 
any moment — one can't tell when — day or 
night, he may be called upon to meet his" — 
Mr. Doomer paused here as if seeking a phrase 
— "his financial obligations, face to face. At 
any time, sir, he may be hurried before the 
Judge — or rather his estate may be — of the 
Probate Court. It is a solemn thought, sir. 
And yet when I come here I see about me men 
laughing, talking, and playing billiards, as if 
there would never be a day when their estate 
would pass into the hands of their adminis- 
trators and an account must be given of evsry 

"But, after all," I said, trying to fall in with 

— 86 — 


his mood, "death and dissolution must come to 
all of us." 

"That's just it," he said solemnly. 
"They've dissolved the tobacco people, and 
they've dissolved the oil people, and you can't 
tell whose turn it may be next" 

Mr. Doomer was silent a moment and then 
resumed, speaking in a tone of humility that 
was almost reverential: 

"And yet there is a certain preparedness 
for death, a certain fitness to die that we ought 
all to aim at. Any man can at least think 
solemnly of the Inheritance Tax, and reflect 
whether by a contract inter vivos drawn in 
blank he may not obtain redemption ; any man, 
if he thinks death is near, may at least divest 
himself of his purely speculative securities and 
trust himself entirely to those gold-bearing 
bonds of the great industrial corporations 
whose value will not readily diminish or pass 
away." Mr. Doomer was speaking with some- 
thing like religious rapture. 

"And yet what does one see?" he continued. 
"Men affected with fatal illness and men 
stricken in years occupied still with idle talk 
and amusements instead of reading the finan- 

— 87 — 
S.L. — 7 


cial newspapers, and at the last carried away 
with scarcely time, perhaps, to send for their 
brokers when it is already too late." 

"It is very sad," I said. 

"Very," he repeated, "and saddest of all, 
perhaps, is the sense of the irrevocability of 
death and the changes that must come after 

We were silent a moment. 

"You think of these things a great deal, 
Mr. Doomer?" I said. 

"I do," he answered. "It may be that it is 
something in my temperament. I suppose one 
would call it a sort of spiritual-mindedness. 
But I think of it all constantly. Often as I 
stand here beside the window and see these 
cars go by" — he indicated a passing street 
car — "I cannot but realize that the time will 
come when I am no longer a managing director, 
and wonder whether they will keep on trying 
to hold the dividends down by improving the 
rolling stock or will declare profits to inflate 
the securities. These mysteries beyond the 
grave fascinate me, sir. Death is a myste- 
rious thing. Who, for example, will take my 
seat on the Exchange? What will happen 
to my majority control of the power company? 

— 88 — 


I shudder to think of the changes that may 
happen after death in the assessment of my 
real estate." 

"Yes," I said, "it is all beyond our control, 
isn't it?" 

"Quite," answered Mr. Doomer. "Especially 
of late years one feels that, all said and done, 
we are in the hands of a Higher Power, and 
that the State Legislature is after all supreme. 
It gives one a sense of smallness. It makes 
one feel that, in these days of drastic legis- 
lation, with all one's efforts the individual is 
lost and absorbed in the controlling power of 
the State Legislature. Consider the words 
that are used in the text of the Income Tax 
Case, Folio Two, or the text of the Trans- 
Missouri Freight Decision, and think of the 
revelation they contain." 

I left Mr. Doomer still standing beside the 
window, musing on the vanity of life and on 
things, such as the future control of freight 
rates, that lay beyond the grave. 

I noticed as I left him how broken and aged 
he had come to look. It seemed as if the chaf- 
ings of the spirit were wearing the body that 
harboured it. 

• »•••• 

— 89 — 


It was about a month later that I learned of 
Mr. Doomer's death. Dr. Slyder told me of it 
in the club one afternoon, over two cocktails in 
the sitting room. 

"A beautiful bedside," he said, "one of the 
most edifying that I have ever attended. I 
knew that Doomer was failing, and of course 
the time came when I had to tell him. 

"'Mr. Doomer,' I said, 'All that I, all 
that any medical skill can do for you, is done ; 
you are going to die. I have to warn you that 
it is time for other ministrations than mine.' 
'Very good,' he said, faintly but firmly, 'send 
for my broker.' 

"They sent out and fetched Jarvis — you 
know him I think ; most sjrmpathetic man and 
yet most business-like ; he does all the firm's 
business with the dying — and we two sat be- 
side Doomer, holding him up while he signed 
stock transfers and blank certificates. 

"Once he paused and turned his eyes on 
Jarvis. 'Read me from the text of the State 
Inheritance Tax Statute,' he said. Jarvis 
took the book and read aloud very quietly and 
simply the part at the beginning, 'Whenever 
and wheresoever it shall appear,' down to the 
words, 'shall be no longer a subject of judg- 

— 90 — 


ment or appeal, but shall remain in perpetual 

''Doomer listened with his eyes closed. 
The reading seemed to bring him great com- 
fort. When Jarvis ended he said with a sigh, 
'That covers it. I'll put my faith in that.' 
After that he was silent a moment and then 
said, 'I wish I had already crossed the river. 
Oh, to have already crossed the river and be 
safe on the other side.' We knew what he 
meant. He had always planned to move over 
to New Jersey. The Inheritance Tax is so 
much more liberal. 

"Presently it was all done. 'There,' I said; 
'it is finished now.' 'No,' he answered, 'there 
is still one thing. Doctor, you've been very 
good to me. I should like to pay your account 
now without it being a charge on the estate. 
I will pay it as' — he paused for a moment and 
a fit of coughing seized him, but by an effort of 
will he found the power to say — 'cash.' 

"I took the account from my pocket (I had it 
with me, fearing the worst) and we laid his 
cheque-book before him on the bed. Jarvis, 
thinking him too faint to write, tried to guide 
his hand as he filled in the sum. But he shook 
his head. 'The room is getting dim,' he said, 

— 91 — 


'I can see nothing but the figures.' 'Never 
mind,' said Jarvis, much'moved,*that's enough.' 
*Is it four hundred and thirty?' he asked 
faintly. 'Yes,' I said, and I could feel the 
tears rising in my eyes, 'and fifty cents.' 

"After signing the cheque his mind wandered 
for a moment and he fell to talking, with his 
eyes closed, of the new federal banking law, 
and of the prospect of the reserve associations 
being able to maintain an adequate gold supply. 

"Just at the last he rallied. 'I want,' he said, 
in quite a firm voice, 'to do something for both 
of you before I die.' 'Yes, yes,' we said. * You 
are both interested, are you not?' he murmured, 
'in City Traction?' 'Yes, yes,' we said. We 
knew, of course, that he was the managing 

"He looked at us faintly and tried to speak. 
'Give him a cordial,' said Jarvis. But he found 
his voice. 'The value of that stock,' he said, 
'is going to take a sudden — ' His voice grew 
faint. 'Yes, yes,' I whispered, bending over 
him (there were tears in both our eyes), 'tell 
me is it going up, or going down?' 'It is going,' 
he murmured — then his eyes closed — 'it is 
going — ' 'Yes, yes,' I said; 'which?' 'It is 
going,' he repeated feebly, and then, quite 

— 92 — 


suddenly, he fell back on the pillows and his 
soul passed. And we never knew which way 
it was going. It was very sad. Later on, of 
course, after he was dead, we knew, as every- 
body knew, that it went down." 

— Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy. 

— 93 — 




ET me admit, as I start to 
write, that the whole thing is 
my own fault. I should never 
have come. I knew better. 
I have known better for years. 
I have known that it is sheer 
madness to go and pay visits in other people's 

Yet in a moment of insanity I have let my- 
self in for it and here I am. There is no hope, 
no outlet now till the first of September, when 
my visit is to terminate. Either that or death. 
I do not greatly care which. 

I write this, where no human eye can see 
me, down by the pond — they call it the lake — 
at the foot of Beverly-Jones' estate. It is 
six o'clock in the morning. No one is up. 
For a brief hour or so there is peace. But pre- 
sently Miss Larkspur — the jolly English girl 
who arrived last week — will throw open her 
casement window and call across the lawn, 

— 97 — 


"Hullo! everybody! What a ripping morn- 
ing!" And young Poppleton will call back in 
a Swiss yodel from somewhere in the shrub- 
bery, and Beverly-Jones will appear on the 
piazza with big towels round his neck and 
shout, "Who's coming for an early dip?" 
And so the day's fun and jollity — heaven help 
me — will begin again. 

Presently they will all come trooping in to 
breakfast, in colored blazers and fancy blouses, 
laughing and grabbing at the food with mimic 
rudeness and bursts of hilarity. And to think 
that I might have been breakfasting at my club 
with the morning paper propped against the 
coffee-pot, in a silent room in the quiet of the 

I repeat that it is my own fault that I am here. 

For many years it had been a principle of 
my life to visit nobody. I had long since 
learned that visiting only brings misery. If I 
got a card or telegram that said, "Won't you 
run up to the Adirondacks and spend the week- 
end with us?" I sent back word: "No, not 
unless the Adirondacks can run faster than I 
can," or words to that effect. If the owner of 
a country house wrote to me: "Our man will 

— 98 — 


meet you with a trap any afternoon that you 
care to name," I answered, m spuit at least: 
"No, he won't, not unless he has a bear-trap or 
one of those traps in which they catch wild 
antelopes." If any fashionable lady friend 
wrote to me in the peculiar jargon that they 
use : "Can you give us from July the twelfth 
at half-after-three till the fourteenth at four?" 
I replied: "Madam, take the whole month, 
take a year, but leave me in peace." 

Such at least was the spirit of my answers to 
invitations. In practice I used to find it suffi- 
cient to send a telegram that read : "Crushed 
with work; impossible to get away," and then 
stroll back into the reading room of the club 
and fall asleep again. 

But my coming here was my own fault. It 
resulted from one of those unhappy moments 
of expansiveness such as occur, I imagine, to 
everybody — moments when one appears to be 
something quite different from what one really 
is — when one feels oneself a thorough good 
fellow, sociable, merry, appreciative, and finds 
the people around one the same. Such moods 
are known to all of us. Some people say that 
it is the super-self asserting itself. . . . 

— 99 — 


That at any rate was the kmd of mood that 
I was in when I met Beverly- Jones and when 
he asked me here. 

It was m the afternoon, at the club. As I 
recall it, we were drinking cocktails and I was 
thinking what a bright, genial fellow Beverly- 
Jones was, and how completely I had mistaken 
him. For myself— I admit it— I am a brighter, 
better man after drinking two cocktails than at 
any other tune — quicker, kindlier, more genial 
—and higher, morally. I had been telling 
stories in that inimitable way that one has after 
two cocktails. In reality, I only know four 
stories, and a fifth that I don't quite remember, 
but in moments of expansiveness they feel like 
a fund or flow. 

It was under such circumstances that I sat 
with Beverly-Jones. And it was in shaking 
hands at leaving that he said: "I do wish, 
old chap, that you could run up to our summer 
place and give us the whole of August!" and I 
answered, as I shook him warmly by the hand ; 
"My dear fellow, I'd simply love to!" "By 
gad, then, it's a go!" he said. "You must 
come up for August, and wake us all up !" 

Wake them up ! Ye gods ! Me wake them 

— 100 — 


One hour later I was repenting of my folly, 
and wishing, when I thought of the two cock- 
tails, that the prohibition wave could be hurried 
up so as to leave us all high and dry — bone 
dry, silent and unsociable. 

Then I clung to the hope that Beverly- Jones 
would forget. But no. In due time his wife 
wrote to me. They were looking forward so 
much, she said, to my visit; they felt — she 
repeated her husband's ominous phrase — 
that I should wake them all up ! 

What sort of alarm clock did they take me 
for, anyway! 

Ah, well! They know better now. It was 
only yesterday afternoon that Beverly-Jones 
found me standing here in the gloom of some 
cedar-trees beside the edge of the pond and 
took me back so quietly to the house that I 
realized he thought I meant to drown myself. 
So I did. 

I could have stood it better — my coming here 
I mean — if they hadn't come down to the 
station in a body to meet me in one of those 
long vehicles with seats down the sides ; silly- 
looking men in colored blazers and girls with 
no hats, all making a hullabaloo of welcome. 
"We are quite a small party," Mrs. Beverly- 

— 101 — 


Jones had written. Small! Great heavens, 
what would they call a large one ? And even 
those at the station turned out to be only half of 
them. There were just as many more all lined 
up on the piazza of the house as we drove up, 
all waving a fool welcome with tennis rackets 
and golf clubs. 

Small party, indeed! Why, after six days 
there are still some of the idiots whose names 
I haven't got straight! That fool with the 
fluffy moustache, which is he? And that jack- 
ass that made the salad at the picnic yesterday 
— is he the brother of the woman with the 
guitar, or who ? 

But what I mean is, there is something in 
that sort of noisy welcome that puts me to the 
bad at the start. It always does. A group of 
strangers all laughing together, and with a set 
of catchwords and jokes all their own, always 
throws me into a fit of sadness, deeper than 
words. I had thought, when Mrs. Beverly- 
Jones said a small party, she really meant 
small. I had had a mental picture of a few sad 
people, greeting me very quietly and gently, 
and of myself, quiet, too, but cheerful— some- 
how lifting them up, with no great effort, by my 
mere presence. 

— 102 — 


Somehow from the very first I could feel that 
Beverly-Jones was disappointed in me. He 
said nothing. But I knew it. On that first 
afternoon, between my arrival and dinner he 
took me about his place, to show it to me. I 
wish that at some proper time I had learned 
just what it is that you say when a man shows 
you about his place. I never knew before how 
deficient I am in it. I am all right to be shown 
an iron-and-steel plant, or a soda-water factory 
or anything really wonderful, but being shown 
a house and grounds and trees, things that I 
have seen all my life, leaves me absolutely 

"These big gates," said Beverly- Jones, "we 
only put up this year." 

"Oh," I said. That was all. Why shouldn't 
they put them up this year? I didn't care if 
they'd put them up this year or a thousand 
years ago. 

"We had quite a struggle," he continued, 
"before we finally decided on sandstone." 

"You did, eh?" I said. There seemed noth- 
ing more to say; I didn't know what sort of a 
struggle he meant, or who fought who; and 
personally sandstone or soapstone or any other 
stone is all the same to me. 

— 103 — 

S.L.— 8 


"This lawn," said Beverly- Jones, "we laid 
down the first year we were here." I an- 
swered nothing. He looked me right in the 
face as he said it and I looked straight back 
at him, but I saw no reason to challenge his 

"The geraniums along the border," he went 
on, "are rather an experiment. They're 

I looked fixedly at the geraniums but never 
said a word. They were Dutch ; all right, why 
not? They were an experiment. Very good ; 
let them be so. I know nothing in particular 
to say about a Dutch experiment. 

I could feel that Beverly-Jones grew de- 
pressed as he showed me round. I was sorry 
for him, but unable to help. I reaUzed that 
there were certain sections of my education 
that had been neglected. How to be shown 
things and make appropriate comments seems 
to be an art in itself. I don't possess it. It is 
not likely now, as I look at this pond, that I 
ever shall. 

Yet how simple a thing it seems when done 
by others. I saw the difference at once the 
very next day, the second day of my visit, 
when Beverly-Jones took round young Pop- 

— 104 — 


pleton, the man that I mentioned above who 
will presently give a Swiss yodel from a clump 
of laurel bushes to indicate that the day's fun 
has begun. 

Poppleton I had known before slightly. I 
used to see him at the club. In club surround- 
ings he always struck me as an ineffable young 
ass, loud and talkative, and perpetually break- 
ing the silence rules. Yet I have to admit that 
in his summer flannels and with a straw hat on 
he can do things that I can't. 

"These big gates," began Beverly- Jones as 
he showed Poppleton round the place, with me 
trailing beside them, "we only put up this 

Poppleton, who has a summer place of his 
own, looked at the gates very critically. 

"Now, do you know what Vd have done with 
those gates, if they were mine?" he said. 

"No," said Beverly-Jones. 

"I'd have set them two feet wider apart; 
they're too narrow, old chap, too narrow." 
Poppleton shook his head sadly at the gates. 

"We had quite a struggle," said Beverly- 
Jones, "before we finally decided on sand- 

I realized that he had one and the same line 

— 105 — 


of talk that he always used. I resented it. 
No wonder it was easy for him. 

"Great mistake," said Poppleton. "Too 
soft. Look at this" — here he picked up a big 
stone and began pounding at the gate post — 
"see how easily it chips! Smashes right off. 
Look at that, the whole corner knocks right 
off ; see?" 

Beverly- Jones entered no protest. I began 
to see that there is a sort of understanding, a 
kind of freemasonry, among men who have 
summer places. One shows his things; the 
other runs them down, and smashes them. 
This makes the whole thing easy at once. 
Beverly-Jones showed his lawn. 

"Your turf is all wrong, old boy," said Pop- 
pleton. "Look! it has no body to it. See, I 
can kick holes in it with my heel. Look at 
that, and that! If I had on stronger boots I 
could kick this lawn all to pieces." 

"These geraniums along the border," said 
Beverly-Jones, "are rather an experiment. 
They're Dutch." 

"But my dear fellow," said Poppleton, 
"you've got them set in wrongly. They ought 
to slope from the sun you know, never to it. 
Wait a bit" — here he picked up a spade that 



was lying where a gardener had been working 
— "I'll throw a few out. Notice how easily 
they come up. Ah, that fellow broke! They're 
apt to. There, I won't bother to reset them, 
but tell your man to slope them over from the 
sun. That's the idea." 

Beverly-Jones showed his new boat-house 
next and Poppleton knocked a hole in the side 
with a hammer to show that the lumber was too 

"If that were my boat-house," he said, "I'd 
rip the outside clean off it and use shingle and 

It was, I noticed, Poppleton's plan first to 
imagine Beverly-Jones' things his own, and 
then to smash them, and then give them back 
smashed to Beverly-Jones. This seemed to 
please them both. Apparently it is a well- 
understood method of entertaining a guest and 
being entertained. Beverly- Jones and Popple- 
ton, after an hour or so of it, were delighted 
with one another. 

Yet somehow, when I tried it myself, it failed 
to work. 

"Do you know what I would do with that 
cedar summer-house if it was mine?" I asked 
my host the next day. 

— 107 — 


"No," he said. 

"I'd knock the thmg down and burn it," I 

But I think I must have said it too fiercely. 
Beverly- Jones looked hurt and said nothing. 

Not that these people are not doing all they 
can for me. I know that. I admit it. If I 
should meet my end here and if— to put the 
thing straight out— my lifeless body is found 
floating on the surface of this pond, I should 
like there to be documentary evidence of that 
much. They are trying their best. "This is 
Liberty Hall," Mrs. Beverly-Jones said to me 
on the first day of my visit : "We want you to 
feel that you are to do absolutely as you like !" 

Absolutely as I like ! How little they know 
me. I should like to have answered : "Madam, 
I have now reached a time of life when human 
society at breakfast is impossible to me ; when 
any conversation prior to eleven a.m. must be 
considered out of the question ; when I prefer to 
eat my meals in quiet, or with only such mild 
hilarity as can be got from a comic paper ; when 
I can no longer wear nankeen pants and a col- 
oured blazer without a sense of personal indig- 
nity ; when I can no longer leap and play in the 

— 108 — 


water like a young fish ; when I do not yodel, 
cannot sing, and, to my regret, dance even 
worse than I did when young; and when the 
mood of mirth and hilarity comes to me only 
as a rare visitant — shall we say at a burlesque 
performance — and never as a daily part of my 
existence. Madam, I am unfit to be a summer 
guest. If this is Liberty Hall indeed, let me, 
oh, let me go!" 

Such is the speech that I would make if it 
were possible. As it is, I can only rehearse 
it to myself. 

Indeed, the more I analyze it the more 
impossible it seems, for a man of my tempera- 
ment at any rate, to be a summer guest. 
These people, and, I imagine, all other summer 
people, seem to be trying to live in a perpetual 
joke. Everything, all day, has to be taken in 
a mood of uproarious fun. 

However, I can speak of it all now in quiet 
retrospect and without bitterness. It will 
soon be over now. Indeed, the reason why I 
have come down at this early hour to this 
quiet water is that things have reached a crisis. 
The situation has become extreme and I must 
end it. 

— 109 — 


It happened last night. Beverly- Jones took 
me aside while the others were dancing the 
fox-trot to the victrola on the piazza. 

"We're planning to have some rather good 
fun to-morrow night," he said — "something 
that will be a good deal more in your line than 
a lot of it, I'm afraid has been up here. In 
fact, my wife says that this will be the very 
thing for you." 

"Oh," I said. 

"We're going to get all the people from the 
other houses over, and the girls — " this term 
Beverly- Jones uses to mean his wife and her 
friends — "are going to get up a sort of enter- 
tainment with charades and things, all im- 
promptu, more or less, of course — " 

"Oh," I said. I saw already what was coming. 

"And they want you to act as a sort of 
master-of-ceremonies, to make up the gags 
and introduce the different stunts and all that. 
I was telling the girls about that afternoon at 
the club, when you were simply killing us all 
with those funny stories of yours, and they're 
all wild over it." 

"Wild?" I repeated. 

"Yes, quite wild over it. They say it will be 
the hit of the summer." 

— 110 


Beverly-Jones shook hands with great 
warmth as we parted for the night. I knew 
that he was thinking that my character was 
about to be triumphantly vindicated, and that 
he was glad for my sake. 

Last night I did not sleep. I remained awake 
all night thinking of the "entertainment." 
In my whole life I have done nothing in public 
except once when I presented a walking-stick 
to the vice-president of our club on the occasion 
of his taking a trip to Europe. Even for that I 
used to rehearse to myself far into the night 
sentences that began: "This walking-stick, 
gentlemen, means far more than a mere walk- 

And now they expect me to come out as a 
merry master-of-ceremonies before an assem- 
bled crowd of summer guests. 

But never mind. It is nearly over now. 
I have come down to this quiet water in the 
early morning to throw myself in. They will 
find me floating here among the lilies Some 
few will understand. I can see it written, as 
it will be, in the newspapers. 

"What makes the sad fataUty doubly poig- 
nant is that the unhappy victim had just en- 
tered upon a hoUday visit that was to have been 

— 111 — 


prolonged throughout the whole month. Need- 
less to say, he was regarded as the life and soul 
of the pleasant party of holiday makers that had 
gathered at the delightful country home of Mr. 
and Mrs. Beverly- Jones. Indeed, on the very 
day of the tragedy, he was to have taken a 
leading part in staging a merry performance of 
charades and parlor entertainments — a thing 
for which his genial talents and overflowing 
high spirits rendered him specially fit." 

When they read that, tliose who know me 
best will understand how and why I died. 
"He had still over three weeks to stay there," 
they will say. "He was to act as the stage 
manager of charades." They will shake 
their heads. They will understand. 

But what is this? I raise my eyes from the 
paper and I see Beverly- Jones hurriedly ap- 
proaching from the house. He is hastily 
dressed, with flannel trousers and a dressing 
gown. His face looks grave. Something has 
happened. Thank God, something has 
happened. Some accident! Some tragedy! 
Something to prevent the charades! 

I write these few lines on a fast train that is 
carrying me back to New York, a cool, com- 

— 112 — 


fortable train, with a deserted club-car where 
I can sit in a leather arm-chair, with my feet 
up on another, smoking, silent and at peace. 

Villages, farms and summer places are 
flying by. Let them fly. I, too, am flying — 
back to the rest and quiet of the city. 

"Old man," Beverly-Jones said, as he laid 
his hand on mine very kindly — he is a decent 
fellow, after all, is Jones— "they're calling you 
by long-distance from New York." 

"What is it?" I asked, or tried to gasp. 

"It's bad news, old chap ; fire in your office 
last evening. I'm afraid a lot of your private 
papers were burned. Robinson — that's your 
senior clerk, isn't it? — seems to have been on 
the spot trying to save things. He's badly 
singed about the face and hands. I'm afraid 
you must go at once." 

"Yes, yes," I said, "at once." 

"I know. I've told the man to get the trap 
ready right away. You've just time to catch 
the seven-ten. Come along." 

"Right," I said. I kept my face as well as 
I could, trying to hide my exultation! The 
office burnt ! Fine ! Robinson singed ! Glori- 
ous ! I hurriedly packed my things and whis- 
pered to Beverly- Jones farewell messages for 

— 113 — 


the sleeping household. I never felt so jolly 
and facetious in my life. I could feel that Bev- 
erly-Jones was admiring the spirit and pluck 
with which I took my misfortune. Later on 
he would tell them all about it. 

The trap ready! Hurrah! Goodbye, 
old man ! Hurrah ! All right. I'll telegraph. 
Right you are, good-bye. Hip, hip, hurrah! 
Here we are! Train right on time. Just 
these two bags, porter, and there's a dollar 
for you. What merry, merry fellows these 
darky porters are, anyway! 

And so here I am in the train, safe bound for 
home and the summer quiet of my club. 

Well done for Robinson ! I was afraid that 
it had missed fire, or that my message to him 
had gone wrong. It was on the second day of 
my visit that I sent word to him to invent an 
accident — something, anything — to call me 
back. I thought the message had failed. I 
had lost hope. But it is all right now, though 
he certainly pitched the note pretty high. 

Of course I can't let the Beverly-Joneses 
know that it was a put-up job. I must set fire 
to the office as soon as I get back. But it's 
worth it. And I'll have to singe Robinson about 
the face and hands. But it's worth that too ! 

— Frenzied Fiction 
— 114 — 



O my mind these unthinking 
judgments about our great 
college do harm, and I deter- 
mined, therefore, that any- 
thing that I said about Oxford 
should be the result of the 
actual observation and real study based upon 
a bona fide residence in the Mitre Hotel. 

On the strength of this basis of experience 
I am prepared to make the following positive 
and emphatic statements. Oxford is a noble 
university. It has a great past. It is at pre- 
sent the greatest university in the world : and 
it is quite possible that it has a great future. 
Oxford trains scholars of the real type better 
than any other place in the world. Its methods 
are antiquated. It despises science. Its 
lectures are rotten. It has professors who 
never teach and students who never learn. It 
has no order, no arrangement, no system. Its 
curriculum is unintelligible. It has no presi- 
dent. It has no state legislature to tell it how 

— 117 — 


to teach, and yet — it gets there. Whether we 
like it or not, Oxford gives something to its 
students, a life and a mode of thought, which 
in America, as yet, we can emulate, but not 

The lack of building fund necessitates the 
Oxford students living in the identical old 
boarding-houses they had in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. Technically they are 
called "quadrangles," "closes," and "rooms"; 
but I am so broken in to the usage of my stu- 
dent days that I can't help calling them board- 
ing houses. In many of these the old stairway 
has been worn down by the generations of stu- 
dents; the windows have little latticed panes; 
there are old names carved here and there 
upon the stone, and a thick growth of ivy covers 
the walls. The boarding-house at St. John's 
College dates from 1509, the one at Christ 
Church from the same period. A few hun- 
dred thousand pounds would suffice to replace 
these old buildings with neat steel and brick 
structures, like the normal school at Sche- 
nectady, N.Y., or the Peel Street High School 
in Montreal. But nothing is done. A move- 
ment was indeed attempted last autumn to- 

— 118 — 


wards removing the ivy from the walls, but 
the result was unsatisfactory and they are 
putting it back. Any one could have told them 
beforehand that the mere removal of the ivy 
would not brighten Oxford up, unless at the 
same time one cleared the stones of the old 
inscriptions, put in steel fire-escapes, and in 
fact brought the boarding houses up to date. 

The effect of the comparison is heightened 
by the peculiar position occupied at Oxford 
by the professors' lectures. In the colleges of 
Canada and the United States the lectures are 
supposed to be a really necessary and useful 
part of the students' training. Again and 
again I have heard the graduates of my own 
college assert that they had got as much, or 
nearly as much, out of the lectures at college 
as out of athletics or the Greek letter society 
or the Banjo and Mandolin Club. In short, 
with us the lectures form a real part of the 
college life. At Oxford it is not so. The lec- 
tures, I understand, are given, and may even 
be taken, but they are quite worthless and 
are not supposed to have anything much to do 
with the development of the student's minds. 

— 119 — 
S.L,— 9 


"The lectures here," said a Canadian student 
to me, "are punk." I appealed to another 
student to know if this was so. "I don't know 
whether I'd call them exactly punk," he an- 
swered, "but they're certainly rotten." Other 
judgments were that the lectures were of no 
importance : that nobody took them : that they 
don't matter : that you can take them if you like : 
that they do you no harm. 

It appears further that the professors them- 
selves are not keen on their lectures. If the 
lectures are called for they give them; if not, 
the professor's feehngs are not hurt. He 
merely waits and rests his brain until in some 
later year the students call for his lectures. 
There are men at Oxford who have rested their 
brains this way for over thirty years. The 
accumulated brain power thus dammed up is 
said to be colossal. 

I understand that the key to this mystery is 
found in the operations of the person called 
the tutor. It is from him, or rather with him, 
that the students learn all that they know: 
one and all are agreed on that. Yet it is a 
little odd to know just how he does it. "We 
go over to his rooms," said one student, "and 
he just lights a pipe and talks to us." "We 

— 120 — 


sit round with him," said another, "and he 
simply smokes and goes over our exercises 
with us." From this and other evidence I 
gather that what an Oxford tutor does is to get 
a Uttle group of students together and smoke at 
them. Men who have been systematically 
smoked at for four years turn into ripe scholars. 
If anybody doubts this, let him go to Oxford 
and he can see the thing actually in operation. 
A well-smoked man speaks and writes Eng- 
lish with a grace that can be acquired in no other 

Now, the principal reason why I am led to ad- 
mire Oxford is that the place is little touched 
as yet by the measuring of "results," and by 
this passion for visible and provable "effi- 
ciency." The whole system at Oxford is such 
as to put a premium on genius and to let medio- 
crity and dulness go their way. On the dull 
student, Oxford, after a proper lapse of time, 
confers a degree which means nothing more 
than that he lived and breathed at Oxford and 
kept out of jail. This for many students is as 
much as society can expect. But for the gifted 
student Oxford offers great opportunities. 
There is no question of his hanging back tiU 

— 121 — 


the last sheep has jumped over the fence. He 
need wait for no one. He may move forward 
as fast as he Ukes, following the bent of his 
genius. If he has in him any ability beyond 
that of the common herd, his tutor, interested 
in his studies, will smoke at him until he kin- 
dles him into a flame. For the tutor's soul is 
not harassed by herding dull students, with 
dismissal hanging by a thread over his head in 
the class room. The American professor has no 
time to be interested in a clever student. He 
has time to be interested in his "deportment," 
his letter-writing, his executive work, and his 
organizing ability and his hope of promotion to 
a soap factory. But with that his mind is ex- 
hausted. The student of genius merely means 
to him a student who gives no trouble, who 
passes all his "tests," and is present at all his 
"recitations." Such a student also, if he can 
be trained to be a hustler and an advertiser, 
will undoubtedly "make good." But beyond 
that the professor does not think of him. The 
everlasting principle of equaUty has inserted 
itself in a place where it has no right to be, and 
where inequality is the breath of life. 

Viewing the situation as a whole, I am led 
then to the conclusion that there must be 

— 122 — 


something in the life of Oxford itself that 
makes for higher learning. Smoked at by his 
tutor, fed in Henry VIII 's kitchen, and sleep- 
ing in a tangle of ivy, the student evidently 
gets something not easily obtained in America. 
And the more I reflect on the matter the more 
I am convinced that it is the sleeping in the 
ivy that does it. How different it is from 
student life as I remember it ! 

— My Discovery of England. 

— 123 



O you remember Col. Hogs- 
head in the "Literary Lapses?" 
He claimed that there was a 
character called Saloonio in 
the "Merchant of Venice," 
though no one else had ever 
heard of him. He was "the man who came on 
the stage all the time and sort of put things 

Well, I am in much the same case as Col. 
Hogshead. In preparing to write this paper 
I have read everything I could find about 
Stephen Leacock. But no one else seems to 
have seen the Stephen Leacock who has had 
a place of honor in my gallery of favorites for 
over thirty years. Of course I find him in the 
books and, Hke Saloonio, he is on the stage all 
the time — or at least very often — and sort 
of puts things through. Worst of all, he 
doesn't look a bit like the published portraits of 
Leacock, and I couldn't imagine him making 
one of those brilliant after-dinner speeches 

— 127 — 


that I see reported in the papers from time to 
time. But to me he is the real Stephen Lea- 
cock, and no learned doctor, nor professor of 
political economy, nor brilliant author, nor 
lecturer who can make even old England laugh, 
can make me give him up. You may not be 
able to find him in the books, even after I de- 
scribe him to you, but for me he is there all the 
time, * 'concealed behind the arras or feasting 
with the doge." 

The reviewer who said that Mr. Leacock's 
work received instant recognition and appre- 
ciation fell short of the truth. His humour was 
current among the students of Toronto Univer- 
sity even before he began to write. The first 
example of it that was repeated to me by one of 
his youthful admirers has never been pub- 
lished, but it is still as fresh to me as his lat- 
est production. It was a burlesque account of 
Noah building the Ark, that he used to give for 
the amusement of his immediate circle of 
friends. Noah, with his mouth full of nails, 
was issuing orders to Shem, Ham, and Japhet 
about bringing in the animals. They had a lot 
of trouble getting the hippopotamus out of the 
river and, meanwhile, the neighbors stood 
around and guyed Noah. They didn't think 

— 128 — 


it was going to be more than a shower anjrway. 
And Noah hit his thumb with the hammer 
while trying to drive a nail. And so on, and so 
on. You can imagine what Leacock could do 
with such a theme. 

Then came the first published article, "A, 
B, and C." From that moment Stephen 
Leacock was what he has continued to be ever 
since. He was the humorist of youth, and in 
spite of later lapses into humor for sophisti- 
cated grown-ups he will always continue to be 
the humorist of youth. "A, B, and C" capti- 
vates every school-boy and school-girl at once. 
Charles Lamb and Mark Twain may be beyond 
their grasp, but to find the mathematical sjmi- 
bols that they use every day given life and per- 
sonality brings a sudden hilarity into the 
routine of school life. 

It was shortly after the publication of this 
sketch that I had my one and only glimpse of 
Stephen Leacock in the flesh. I had reached 
the last hour of a visit to Toronto when a friend 
told me that Leacock was having a game of bil- 
liards in a near-by biUiard parlor, and offered to 
introduce me. When we reached the bilUard 
room the game was over and I carried away a 
mental picture of a slender young man putting 

— 129 — 



away a billiard cue and looking at me over his 
shoulder. The interview did not last for 
more than five minutes, and I do not remember 
a word that was said. I have never been able 
to decide whether the impression he made was 
of being shy or of being stand-offish. Any- 
way, we didn't get very far in our interview. 
And he didn't look a bit like the pictures of 
him that appear so often in the papers. But 
that quiet, youthful Stephen Leacock has come 
down the years with me and persists in walking 
before me on every page he publishes. 

His next pubUshed article was "My Finan- 
cial Career," and I am willing to contend — if 
necessary, with "grinded lances" — that no 
grown-up person ever fully appreciated the 
abundant humor of that httle masterpiece. 
It is an outburst of reckless, effervescent 
youth that only the young can enter into fully. 
Of course, if you read it first when you were 
young, its full humor may have remained with 
you, but no person of mature age, reading it 
for the first time, can appreciate its joyous 
insolence. Just think of it ! He has dared to 
be merry with a bank. What awful blasphemy ! 
To the grown up man a bank is a combination 
of a temple and a tomb. It is the holy of 

— 130 — 


holies of that which he worships and serves 
every hour of his life. And his chief tragedies 
are connected with it. Overdrafts, "equitably 
rationed credit," and "selective curtailment" 
have made the bank a charnel of dead hopes. 
How many of his dreams of avarice have been 
shattered by the refusal of an unfeeling banker 
to extend the necessary credit. No! No! 
You cannot expect a grown-up man to indulge 
in care-free laughter at "My Financial Career." 
I am in a position to back up my opinion on 
this point. For some years past I have been 
using "My Financial Career" as a reading on 
the public platform and have watched its effect 
on many audiences. The young are always 
the first to laugh and the last to stop laughing. 
The mature join in of course, but to even the 
most successful men a bank recalls unpleasant 
moments. And if there happens to be a 
banker in the audience the older people look 
towards him and sober up at once. I have 
known even a branch bank manager — a man no 
more impressive than Peter Pumpkin — to check 
the enjoyment of all the mature people in an 
audience. But the young just let themselves 
go. Most of them have run a message to a 
bank or have been inside of one, and they have 

— 131 — 


experienced the same feelings that Leacock 
expresses so poignantly. They do not realize 
that their future in life may depend on the 
smiles of a banker, and they let themselves 
go, no matter who may be offended. 

It has always seemed to me that "My Finan- 
cial Career" could have been written only by 
a young man who was exquisitely sensitive. 
Contact with the inexplicable grown-up world 
made him feel shy and awkward, and perhaps 
it hurt a little. In self-defence he turned it all 
to ridicule — just to bluff the young people of his 
own age. He was like a boy taking a dare to 
throw a snowball at the schoolmaster or the 
minister. He would let his contemporaries see 
that even a bank couldn't overawe him. And 
in all his later deaUngs with club-men and the 
idle rich there is a touch of the same bravado. 
I doubt if either the student or the professor has 
been wholly at ease with the solid citizens and 
solid institutions of the world. And he gets 
back at them by having a joke at their expense. 
The same solemn boy (wearing a grey suit by 
the way) who walked through the awful adven- 
tures in the bank, now walks through the Mau- 
soleum Club and glares defiantly at Mr. 
Doomer and the other worthies of High 

— 132 — 


Finance. (Oh, I know all about that "in- 
fectious smile," but the boy is there just 
the same, "behind the arras.") The same 
sensitiveness sharpens his powers of obser- 
vation, and he turns them all to ridicule— not 
for the boys of his own generation, but of this 
generation, and for all generations of boys to 
come. He is youth making laughter for youth, > 
and the laughter will continue while the young 
are shy and awkward and sensitive. 

Although scholarship and experience of life 
have given him a wider range of themes than 
when he wrote "My Financial Career" his art 
is the same. He has never dealt much in epi- 
grams and "lapidary phrases." With indivi- 
dual and inimitable skill he takes ordinary 
incidents and by the use of ordinary language 
—though of unusual clarity— he builds up situa- 
tion after situation that is electrical with laugh- 
ter. For sheer audacity of irresponsible fun- 
making some of his httle sketches are unique. 
They have a spontaniety that is not surpassed 
even in the poems of Calverly. 

A careful reading of Mr. Leacock's works 
with a view to discovering the man back of., 
them, is an exhilarating, but somewhat bewil- 
dering task. He has expressed opinions on every 

— 133 — 


conceivable subject, and has expressed them 
with impetuous vigor. Usually his dominant 

^note is one of rebellion. 

,, "The rewards and punishments in the une- 

' qual and ill-adjusted world in which we live are 

most unfair." His comments are at all times 

penetrating. But he seldom offers a solution 

^ of any of the problems he scornfully analyzes. 
Why should he? Others have been offering 
solutions down through the centuries and 
piling fooUshness on fooUshness. The great 

^fact to be gathered from all this is that the 
contacts of life have not made him callous. 
His sympathy with all human hurts and needs 
is never failing. He rages at the impossibi- 
lity of setting things right and then finds re- 
fuge in his marvellous gift of laughter. If he 

V cannot help us, he can make us laugh and for- 
get. Possibly he finds forgetfulness himself 
in his outbursts of fun-making. In any case, 
it is something to be thankful for that his fun 
is without malice. It is an anodyne for the 
miseries that he cannot correct. To laugh with 
him in his gay moods is to be refreshed for the 
battle of life — to share in his high spirits. And 
if, after laughing with him, the world goes back 
to its cares and thinks of him only as a fri- 

— 134 — 


volous entertainer, who deserves attention only 
in idle hours, it is only making the same mis- 
take it has always made in dealing with those 
who bring good gifts and enrich life. He has 
equipped himself as a scholar and thinker to 
deal gravely with the gravest problems — 
but all that his ever-increasing following sees 
is the sparkle of his wit and the antic nunble- 
ness with which he turns life's hypocrisies 
and stupidities to laughter. Surely it is 
excusable if he has moments of cynicism and 
bitterness. The more he is acclaimed for his ^ 
humor the more he must feel the futility of 
things. It was after his fame had been estab- 
lished that he wrote: 

"An acquired indifference to the ills of others 
is the price at which we live. A certain dole 
of sympathy, a casual mite of personal relief, 
is the mere drop that any one of us alone can 
cast into the vast ocean of human misery. 
Beyond that we must harden ourselves lest we, 
too, perish. We feed well while others starve. 
We make fast the doors of our lighted houses 
against the indigent and hungry. What else 
can we do? If we shelter one, what is that? 
If we try to shelter all, we are ourselves shelter- 

— 135 — 
S.L.— 10 


Mr. Leacock's most ambitious book is the 
series of "Sunshine Sketches" that reveal the 
town of Mariposa and its typical inhabitants. 
In commenting on it himself he points out all 
the faults that could be pointed out by the 
most censorious critic. 

"I wrote this book with considerable diffi- 
culty. I can invent characters quite easily, 
but I have no notion as to how to make things 
happen to them. Indeed I see no reason 
why anything should. I could write awfully 
good short stories if it were only permissible 
merely to introduce some extremely original 
character, and at the end of two pages an- 
nounce that at this point a brick fell on his head 
and killed him. If there were room for a 
school of literature of this kind I should offer 
to lead it. I do not mean that the hero would 
always and necessarily be killed by a brick. 
One might sometimes use two. Such feeble 
plots as there are in this book were invented 
by brute force, after the characters had been 
introduced. Hence the atrocious clumsi- 
ness of the construction all through." 

As a story, ''Sunshine Sketches" has no 
plot. Very well. After reading it, we pre- 
fer our novels that way. The reader is satis- 

— 136 — 


fied, even though nothing happens. It has no 
suspended interest. True, but it has a sus- 
tained chuckle that keeps us going from page k 
to page without any thought of skipping or 
stopping. And often the fun of the book bub- 
bles over in hilarious nonsense, as when Mr. 
Bagshaw, on his return from Ottawa, "Went 
into Callahan's tobacco store and bought two 
ten cent cigars and took them across the 
street and gave them to Mallory Tompkins of 
the Times-Herald as a present from the 
Prime Minister." 

The characters are such as you would find 
in any small town, and the things they say and 
do and think in the book are the things they 
are saying and doing and thinking in a thou- 
sand small towns to-day. But in real life we 
have no chuckling master of ceremonies to 
bring them out and show their weaknesses and 
absurdities — and human decency. The people 
of Mariposa are revealed in another sunshine 
than that of the every-day sun— the sunshine 
of a spirit that is wise and tolerant and amused. 
He reveals the law-breaking and cunning of 
Josh Smith — now legally extinct — as ruth- 
lessly as if he were an investigator of the muck- 

— 137 — 


raking period, yet makes the fat rascal so 
human and deep-read in human frailty that 
we know he must be descended from a younger 
scion of the Falstaff family who adventured to 
the New World in the days of Elizabeth or 
James. The prohibition wave may have 
swept the saloon from existence, but it breaks 
in vain against the colossal figure of "JOS. 
SMITH, PROP." And it is doubtful if the 
waves of time will submerge him any more 
than the prohibition wave. 

There is not a character in this book that is 
not in place in a New World small town, and 
nothing happens that would not happen in any 
other small town. Only a touch of literary 
gloom would be needed to make this picture 
of contemporary life as sordid and mean and 
futile as any to be found in the most depress- 
ing "best seller." But the sunshine in which 
it is revealed has transfigured it. And the 
sunshine never fails. Judge Pepperleigh and 
Dean Drone and Henry MuUins, and all the 
rest of them, move through the years, aureoled 
in kindly light and laughter. The art of "Sun- 
shine Sketches" successfully blends the keen 
^ Pres ervation of the realist with the glamour of 

— 138 — ' 


the idealist. Whether the book ranks as a 
classic time alone can tell, but for the present 
it is very satisfying. 

"Nonsense Novels," whose success es- 
tabUshed Stephen Leacock's fame, deserve 
attention for a number of reasons. He ridi- 
culed the best sellers — and in doing so pro- 
duced a best seller. But these Httle novels are 
sheer fun from start to finish. It is not as 
parodies on current fiction that they excel. 
Their chief merit Hes in the opportunity they 
gave Mr. Leacock to give full scope to his* 
genius for attractive nonsense. More than 
an5rthing else they are just what he has named 
them— "Nonsense Novels." They can be 
enjoyed even by those who know nothing of 
the types of novels they start out to parody. 
Every character and every incident gives the 
humorist a chance to bubble over with delight- 
fully inconsequent nonsense. If Hazlitt could 
have seen this book he would have devoted a 
special essay to it. He claimed that non- 
sense is an essentially EngHsh form of fun that 
is unknown to other people. 

"I flatter myself that we are ahnost the only 
people who understand and relish nonsense. 

— 139 — 


We are not 'merry and wise,' but indulge our 
mirth to excess and folly. When we trifle we 
trifle in good earnest; and, having once re- 
laxed our hold of the helm, drift idly down the 
stream, and, delighted with the change, are 
tossed about by every little breath of whim 
or caprice, 

" 'That under Heaven is blown,' 
All we want is to proclaim a truce with reason, 
and to be pleased with as little expense of 
thought or pretension to wisdom as possible." 

Of this nonsense which Hazlitt admired, 
Stephen Leacock is a master — and also he is 
almost its slave. Whether writing burlesque, 
or satire, or humor or even pathos, he must 
stop every little while to indulge in an out- 
burst of nonsense. That Mr. Leacock agrees 
with Hazlitt is shown by his admiration for 
"Alice in Wonderland" — that world master- 
piece of nonsense. But his own nonsense in 
its way is just as masterly as that of Lewis 
Carrol, and even more mirth-provoking. It 
may not have the poetic whimsicality of "Alice 
in Wonderland," but it is just as unexpected 
and even more lavish. 

As a single book "Nonsense Novels" does 

— 140 — 


not deserve a word of censure, but as a tiuning 
point in the development of Mr. Leacock's 
art it raises a doubt. Since its appearance the 
pubUc has demanded more nonsense novels, 
and the pubUshers have tried to make it ap- 
pear that all his later work has been of the same 
class. This is not true. He has allowed him- 
self a wide range, which embraces pathos as 
well as nonsense, but pubhshers, critics and 
readers have seemingly conspired to make 
believe that all his productions are nonsense 
sketches. Of course the same care-free non- 
sense appears in the later books and perhaps 
dominates them, but not to the exclusion of 
other forms of humor with which he made us 
familiar in his earHer books. The aggrieved 
boy still appears, full of fierce but funny indig- 
nation — as when Melpomenus Jones exclaimed 
with hollow, despairing laughter : 

"Another cup of tea and more photographs! 
More photographs! Har! Har!" 

When he appears in the last book he is just 
as aggrieved and indignant and funny as ever. 
The chairman at one of the lectures had an- 
nounced : 

"This year we are starting a new line, and 

— 141 — 


trying the experiment of cheaper talent." 

"Let anybody who knows the discomfiture 
of coming out before an audience on any terms, 
judge how it feels to crawl out in front of them 
labelled as cheaper talent." 

The satirical master of ceremonies is there 
also and gives us such comments as this : 

"The Rasselyer-Brown residence was the 
kind of cultivated home where people of educa- 
tion and taste are at liberty to talk about things 
they don't know and utter freely ideas they 
haven't got." 

If Mr. Leacock's later books were as adver- 
tised and popularly acclaimed they would be 
mere imitations of "Nonsense Novels," but 
fortunately he has not allowed himself to be 
submerged by his first success. There are ele- 
ments of even greater success in other phases 
of his humor. Many of his sincerest admirers 
wish that his work had developed along the 
line of "Sunshine Sketches" rather than on 
the line of "Nonsense Novels." 

Like every one else, I have read Mr. Lea- 
cock's writings as they have appeared in peri- 
odicals and from time to time in books, but 
never with the purpose of appraising his powers 

— 142 — 


and achievements. Now that I have re-read 
his books I am forced to a number of conclu- 
sions. To begin with, I cannot confine my 
mental picture of him to the shy and sensitive 
boy. I must admit that he has somehow de- 
veloped into a man with a competent chuckle, 
who laughs at things, not because they hurt, 
but because he knows them and sees through 
their solemn pretentiousness. Then this man 
is sometimes aroused to indignant scorn and 
phes a satiric lash, that is none the less lacerat- 
ing because it is light. Sometimes, for he is 
human, he blunders into something like 
peevishness and might almost be accused of 
scolding. But in every book, and in almost 
every article, I still find flashes of the boy, and 
am glad. I do not want to give him up, for that 
would mean giving up one of the last outposts 
of my own youth. To laugh with Leacock in 
his boyish moods is still to be in one's twenties, 
and is very precious. 

So much has been said about Leacock as a 
satirist that a word of consideration is indicated. 
Somehow I cannot class him with the great 
satirists. Although he has decided satirical 
power, it is slight compared with his genius 

— 143 — 


as a fun-maker. I should never think of apply- 
ing to him the quotation from Milton that Hugh 
Miller applied to Voltaire: 

"I forewarn thee, shun 
His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope 
To be invulnerable in those bright arms. 
Though tempered heavenly; for that mortal dint. 
Save He who reigns above, none can resist." 

It is true that his ridicule can provoke laugh- 
ter at many things that deserve the lash of 
satire, but it is not the laughter that one 
associates with the great masters of the lash. 
The subtle malignity of Swift, the delicate, 
brilliant savagery of Pope, and the indignant 
scorn of Dryden, are nowhere in evidence. 
Mr. Leacock's lively mockery does not voice 
the rancours of his time. While his treatment 
of enemy statesmen, generals and rulers, for 
instance, moves us to laughter, the average 
man will prefer to leave the Hohenzollerns and 
Hapsburgs and their retinues to the fierce in- 
vective of Henry Watterson and of others who 
are skilled in expressing the unprintable opin- 
ions of their fellow men. The ordinary reader 
is not satisfied to see these great ofifenders 
tapped with a bauble. He wants someone to go 
after them with an axe. Mr. Leacock lacks 

— 144 — 



the cold ferocity of the master satirist. And 

it is a good thing that he does. In spite of 

Pope's boast that those who are : — 

"Safe from the pulpit, bar and throne 
Are touched and shamed by ridicule alone," 

it is doubtful if the satirists ever accomplished 
much for the good of mankind. When the 
woi'ld is ready to dismiss any man or institu- 
tion with contemptuous laughter, it is as likely 
to seize on some accidental phrase or some 
unmeaning "Lillubulero," as on a prepared 
satirical masterpiece. It is quite true that on 
many occasions Mr. Leacock has essayed the 
role of a satirist with undeniable skill, but he ^ 
finds it hard to hold the part. He often lapses 
into joyous and irrelevant nonsense, or pours 
out his indignation in every-day wrath, as when 
he ended his satire on "Night Life in Paris" 
with the comment : — 

"Nothing is too damn silly for people to pay 
money to go to see." 

Mr. Leacock need not mind if one admirer — 
for I make no pretense of speaking for any 
one but myself — does not join in the chorus 
of praise that has greeted his satire. All 
satire is much overrated, and its value to 

— 145 — 


humanity is doubtful. It gives expression to 
emotions that should not be cultivated. But 
wholesome laughter, such as he has evoked so 
freely, has a tonic effect, and we cannot be too 
grateful to him for his contributions to the 
bewildered sanity of the trying period through 
which we have passed. 

Though the war affected the writings of Mr. 
Leacock, as it did the writings of all who came 
through that terrible experience, it is not in his 
humorous and satirical books pubUshed during 
the war and after that his real thought is 
revealed. Moved to the depth of his soul by 
the problems developed by the conflict, he 
dropped his role of jester for democracy, threw 
aside the cumbrous instruments of the political 
economist, and revealed himself as a man 
keenly alive to human needs. "The Unsolved 
Riddle of Social Justice" is the truest expres- 
sion of himself that he has given. And, more- 
over, it is one of the most serious and purpose- 
ful books published since the war. 

"But it is serious!" protests the average 
admirer of Leacock. 

Quite true. But unless you can appreciate 
this book to the full you have never caught 
a glimpse of the man who has been amusing 

— 146 — 


you. Unless you can enter into the spirit of 
this book you have missed the pathos that 
underlies so much of his humorous work. . 

"Pathos ! Stephen Leacock writing pathos !" 
I can hear a chorus of laughers exclaiming. 

Certainly ! 

What is the story of the "Little Girl in Green" 
that is tucked away in the burlesque narrative 
of Peter Spillikins but a httle masterpiece of 
pathos ? And Peter Spillikins himself — enthu- 
siastic, clean-minded, futile, innocent— who is 
vamped because of his wealth, is almost a 
tragic figure. And he is presented in an at- 
mosphere of burlesque. Because of the wide 
range of his observation and sympathy, Mr. 
Leacock is one of the best interpreters of con- 
ditions in the United States and Canada. 
In his writings the sordidness of things is not 
made repulsive. It is pathetic. Even his 
wildest burlesqueing and most boisterous 
laughter has an undertone of pathos. The 
impossible aspirations of Mrs. Rasselyer- 
Brown are absurd and laughable — and piti- 
ful. The mocker sees through them so clearly 
that one could weep for them. These things 
all hurt— and he covers the hurt with laughter. 

Take the case of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown. 

— 147 — 


Her name is burlesque and her friends are 
all burlesque characters. The people of an 
old and aristocratic civilization no doubt find 
her very amusing. The strivings of such peo- 
ple are favorite jests with the comic papers. 
But if you read the chapters in which she 
appears with any appreciation, you will feel that 
the crude yearnings for culture, and the follies 
and swindlings to which they lead, are fully as 
pitiful as they are laughable. In the same 
story, the suddenly wealthy farmer, Tom- 
linson, and his vague wife and their immature 
son, are portrayed with a pathos that has not 
a false note. The real laughter in "The Wiz- 
ard of Finance," and its sequel, "The Arrested 
Philanthropy of Mr. Tomlinson," is all directed 
against the greed and hypocrisy of the finan- 
ciers and bunkum educationists and parasites 
who always fasten themselves on financial 
success. Their greed makes them just as 
blind as the simplest "come-on" who ever 
listened to the glozings of the gold-brick artist. 
Mr. Leacock gives us plenty of fun and satire 
directed at the shams of the world, but his 
mockery does not glance at the innocent. If 
they blunder into laughable foolishness, the 

— 148 — 


pathos of their simplicity is not overlooked. 
When you have once glimpsed the man back of 
the fun and fooling, you will reaHze that only 
the man capable of writing "Social Justice" 
could possibly have written any of scores of his 
most-applauded and laughed-at sketches. We 
needed this passionately earnest book to re- 
veal the true man to us. 

Although Mr. Leacock has written exten- 
sively on political economy and occupies a posi- 
tion of authority as an instructor in that science, 
it is not proposed in this essay to follow him — 
to quote his own phrase — "into the jungle of 
pure economic reasoning." He confesses that 
he is "well and wearily familiar" with this 
science, and reveals his opinion of its pre- 
sent status in a sentence : — 

"When I sit and warm my hands, as best I 
may, at the little heap of embers that is now 
political economy, I cannot but contrast its 
dying glow with the generous blaze of the 
vainglorious and triumphant science that it 
once was." 

But though I find it convenient to quote him 
in my own defence when I wish to put by his 
serious work and confine the present essay 

— 149 — 


to his popular successes, it would not do to fol- 
low this method too far. In his various essays 
and books he has dealt with almost every phase 
of his own work that a critic might be disposed 
to consider. It might be shown that even this 
essay is an impertinence, for he concludes his 
essay on American humor with this paragraph : 

"One is tempted in such an essay as the 
present to conclude with a discussion of the 
writers of the immediate moment. But dis- 
cretion forbids. Criticism is only of value 
where the lapse of a certain time lends per- 
spective to the view. Of the brilliance and 
promise of a number of the younger humorists 
of to-day there can be no doubt. But it is 
difficult to appraise their work and to dis- 
tinguish among the mass of transitory effects 
the elements of abiding value." 

Mr. Leacock's stand on such controversial 
subjects as prohibition and public ownership 
*' have attracted so much attention that one can- 
not help at least mentioning them. The roar 
of anger that has risen against him all bears 
the burden that he is a professor and a humor- 
ist, and consequently is not qualiied to dis- 
cuss matters so profound and practical. The 

"^150 — 


best reply to this attitude that occurs to me is 
a quotation from his own essay on Charles II. 

"The man of real enlightenment is inevit- 
ably reckoned a trifler and is accused of shal- 
lowness and insincerity, while a dull man, 
heavily digesting his few ideas, is credited 
with a profundity which he does not possess." 

But if time should prove Mr. Leacock to be 
right — if prohibition and public ownership 
of the railways should prove to be failures — 
it is highly probable that he would find him- 
self the victim of one of the keenest ironies 
of fate. An attempt to remedy conditions 
would probably force him to elaborate from his 
personal experience two more of the economic 
paradoxes with which he deals from time to 
time in his serious writing. For instance, 
in an American State where prohibition has 
been in force for many years it was found 
impossible to repeal it, not because of the 
strength of the prohibitionists, but because 
all the bootleggers and blind-piggers who 
profited by the illicit traffic in liquor supported 
the law. Under a licensing system their pro- 
fits would disappear, so they supported the law 
they were breaking. Similarly, if the public 
ownership of railways should prove a failure 

— 151 — 


it is logical to suppose that the chief opposition 
to a change would come from the powerful 
private railway interests that found competition 
with the government easy, and consequently 
would not want to face the keener competition 
they would find if the railroads were de- 

In addition to his literary success, Mr. Lea- 
cock has made an unusual success as a humor- 
ous lecturer. England, Scotland and Wales, 
as well as the United States and Canada, have 
listened to him and laughed— and the only 
complaint is that audiences cannot listen 
enough because they laugh so much. It has 
not been my good fortune to hear and see him 
as a lecturer. From those who have heard him 
I understand that seeing is just as necessary 
to a full enjoyment as hearing, for he is an actor 
as well as a speaker. When he tells a story, 
it is his habit to assume a part in it and act it 
during the tellmg. The following report from 
the London Spectator gives a suggestion of 
both the matter and the method of his lectures. 

"Once he was playing in that wonderful 
piece, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' The audience 
would remember that the climax of the play 

— 152 — 


was when Eliza crosses the river on lumps of 
ice. At the beginning of the run he was one of 
these lumps of ice, and he described how he 
put his very heart into it, and swayed and 
shifted as Eliza stepped on him, and when the 
manager saw that lump of ice he knew that his 
heart was in his work. Then his chance 
came. Just as EUza had to cross the ice one 
of the characters had to say to her : *Hark, 
they have put the bloodhounds on your track 
already !' and then a dog had to howl off. They 
had had a real dog to do it, but one day the dog 
was sick. You know how we actors climb 
on one another's shoulders. I was sorry for 
the dog but — ' Anyhow the manager had said 
tohim, *Mr. Leacock, can you howl?' Blush- 
ingly Mr. Leacock had admitted that he 
thought he could howl, and from that day the 
part had been his." 

The critic of the Spectator makes a comment 
on Mr. Leacock's humor that may be passed on 
without comment: — 

"His jokes are oftenest produced by the 
magnifying-glass method, which is the same 
as the method of exaggeration, which, again, is 
the same as the reductio ad absurdum." 

— 153 — 


An American critic of Mr. Leacock's method 
as a lecturer is less learned, but more illumi- 
nating : 

"Leacock hurt me at the Brunswick yester- 
day. He strained my stomach. I was wear- 
ing a suit that was made in 1902, and I split 
the back of the vest. I laughed until I had a 
sort of reflex, double-acting come-back of the 
diaphragm that was really painful. And he 
was merciless. I would straighten out my 
face and determine not to be an absolute fool; 
but Leacock kept coming back at us with Harry 
Lauder stuff, and Mark Twain stuff, so far as 
acting goes ; and Jim Riley stuff, and all of it 
Stephen Leacock's home-brew, absolutely 
fresh and full of kick. And bang! would go 
a ligament of my vest and a sinew of my will. 
I then cast all discretion to the winds and 
joined the merry throng. I have heard no such 
cachinnation in a sedate audience before in 

"He should be fined for cruelty to sedate 
people. He should pay me for the back of my 
vest. I will bet that the janitor picked up a 
bushel of buttons from the floor after Leacock 
got through. 

"It is a wonderful gift, this histrionic power 

— 154 — 


over audiences. It is a form of auto-intoxica- 
tion, too, when it attacks a professor of politi- 
cal economy and sets him to going around and 
making the world laugh, even against its set 
and fixed habits of declining to laugh at any- 

"This Canadian professor, with his hair in 
a bang, his twinkling eyes, his sturdy figure, 
his outdoor bronze, his deep voice, his sort of 
'Behind the Beyond' imagination that turns 
laughs against himself, can doubtless move to 
tears, if he please, as easily as to laughter." 

The fundamental characteristic of Mr. Lea- 
cock's writing, both serious and humorous, is 
intellectual fairness. He takes the trouble to^/ 
know what he is writing about, whether his 
purpose at the moment is to instruct or to 
amuse. Many of his lighter sketches are 
scarcely humorous. They are singularly clear 
studies of things as they are, and these things 
seem funny because we never before saw them 
so clearly. Of course every serious observa- 
tion or statement is inevitably followed by an 
absurd, nonsensical, or humorous afterthought, 
but that does not detract from the soundness 
of the serious part. When he burlesques the 
modern problem play in "Back of the Beyond," 

— 155 — 


it is at bottom a searching analysis of that 
particular form of the drama. 

But though in his serious writing historical 
dignity is never violated, the humorist was 
nevertheless awake and storing up material 
that emerges as burlesque later on. For in- 
stance, it seems very good burlesque when the 
rector of St. Asaph's ''bowed to Episcopalians, 
nodded amiably to Presbyterians, and even ac- 
knowledged with his lifted hand the passing 
of persons of graver forms of error." 

But Leacock, the historian, records gravely 
that in the days of "John, by Divine permission, 
first Bishop of Toronto," this description was 
seriously embodied in a public document. 
We find that in a petition addressed to Par- 
liament Bishop Strachan had protested against 
an educational programme which "placed all 
forms of error on an equality with truth" — 
truth in that case being AngUcanism. 

Although his volume in "The Makers of 
Canada" series gives evidence of much re- 
search and sets forth impartially the establish- 
ment of responsible government, there is no 
reason to suspect that it was a piece of drud- 
gery and hackwork. The grave historian 
quotes with evident relish from the fierce 

— 156 — 


polemics and fiery speeches of that embittered 
time. And in spite of the fact that Mr. Lea- 
cock mentions with evident pride that he is a 
Conservative he sets forth justly the great 
work performed by the Reformers who fought 
the battle of popular rights against an in- 
trenched Toryism. 

While he voices freely his disrespect for 
classical political economy and, as one critic 
has said, "has applied to it the cruel test of 
common-sense," His "Elements of Political 
Economy" is a work of academic thorough- 
ness, based on a wide survey of that over- 
crowded field. Only "a tough capacity for 
reading" could have enabled him to famil- 
iarize himself with the cloud of witnesses 
when bringing this subject into court. He 
must have "swallowed libraries whole" and di- 
gested them before producing this lucid and or- 
derly presentation of political science, which is 
now used as an authoritative text-book in our 
schools and colleges. And if you read one of 
his satirical sketches, such as "A Little Dinner 
with Mr. Lucullus Fyshe," you will find that 
his knowledge of business methods and con- 
ditions is searching and accurate. The amaz- 
ing thing about Mr. Leacock is that, with his 

— 157 — 


thorough grasp of the serious aspects of life, 
he has not lost his sense of bo3dsh playfulness. 
He can lay aside his books at any time and 
"play at push pin with the boys." Butno one 
who makes a survey of his work as a whole 
can doubt that if he chose to stick to his books 
and to cultivate a pose of unshakable serious- 
ness, he could have been as dull and depend- 
able as any college professor or eminent editor 
of them all. 

Fortunately his high spirits could not be sub- 
dued to that that it worked in, and now that his 
fame as a jester has obscured his authority as 
an educationist, he need feel no regrets. 
The world has many sober-minded citizens 
who can deal with history and political econ- 
omy, and altogether too few who have the 
genius to make life more endurable with humor 
and laughter. 

But there is one point that gives me some 
disquietude. Mr. Leacock has poked fun at 
everything and everybody — except the modern 
enterprising publisher. And yet the publisher 
has deserved his satire more than any one 
else. If any one has done Mr. Leacock harm 
it is the pubHshers, S3mdicate managers and 
directors of lecture bureaus. It is true that he 

— 158 — 


gives them a love tap in his essay on O. Henry. 
This shows that he is aware of the danger of 
listening to their blandishments, and that is a 
hopeful sign. But they have already tried to 
direct the current of his literary output, as is 
shown in the following announcement which 
ushered "Winsome Winnie and other Non- 
sense Novels" to the public: 

"It is in response to repeated requests that 
these new novels have been written." 

Quite so. Because "Nonsense Novels" 
were a wonderful success the publisher wanted 
more of them. I can imagine him beside Lea- 
cock's desk, "squat like a toad," and urging 
the certain profits to be made from a new 
book of burlesques. Or perhaps he took him 
to the top of a high mountain and showed him 
the world full of people laughing at "Nonsense 
Novels" — and the rich royalties pouring into 
the bank account of the author. If so, it is a 
pity that Leacock did not push him over a cliff 
and watch him land in a squashy mess among 
the fossils and geological specimens in the 
talus at its base. 

The curse of modern literature is the enter- 
prising publisher. If one book succeeds, every 
pubUsher tries to lure or bulldoze the author, 

— 159 — 


and every other author over whom he has in- 
fluence, to write another book like it that will 
be a sure winner. And if the harried author 
cannot do it the enterprising pubHsher takes 
whatever book he v/rites and puts a jacket on 
it that will fool the public into thinking that 
it is like the prosperous best seller of the hour. 

Some day an enterprising publisher will un- 
dertake to publish the Bible along up-to-date 
lines. When a society novel makes a hit and 
sets the fashion, he will issue the Bible with a 
jacket by Montgomery Flagg, showing Vashti or 
the Shulamite. When "he man" stories are 
the rage, he will issue it with a Lyendecker 
jacket, showing Samson leaning on the jaw- 
bone after doing his day's work. A rage for 
"Back-to-Nature" novels will inspire a new 
edition with a jacket by Livingstone Bull, show- 
ing Nebuchadnezzar out to pasture. 

Up to the present the pubHsher has not done 
Mr. Leacock as much harm as he has to most 
modern authors who have had a measure of 
success, but I shall not feel satisfied until he 
turns and rends him. Only then can we be 
sure that he has realized the danger and that 
his genius is free to develop along its own lines. 

— 160 — 


Not that the later burlesques are without 
merit. The trouble is that they are following 
an indicated line of success — and that way 
badness lies. Although Mr. Leacock's later 
books have been hailed with delight and an 
unvarying chorus of laughter, there are many 
sketches that have as much pathos as humor. 
Take the "HohenzoUerns in America," for 
instance. The study of the deposed Kaiser 
is essentially pathetic, and, although it may 
seem to many a broadly comic touch to marry 
off the faithful princess to the iceman, one 
cannot help hoping and believing that she lived 
happily ever after. 

If the publishers and the pubhc could get 
over their hysterical demand for comedy and 
read Stephen Leacock's writings with dis- 
cernment, they would soon realize that his 
power of pathos is never less artistically sure 
than his command of laughter. His great dan- 
ger is that he may be misled by an insistent 
and profitable demand into the modern evil 
of speciaUzation — an evil with which he has 
dealt in his literary essays — and will give too 
free a rein to his genius for fun. As matters 
stand he is one of the truest interpreters of 

— 161 — 


"^ American and Canadian life that we have had ; 
but by giving free play to all his powers he may 
finally win recognition as a broad and sym- 
pathetic interpreter of life as a whole. 

In the classical masterpieces of the past 
great scenes and speeches and characteriza- 
tions were shown against a background pre- 
pared by the poet or literary artist. In the 
lapse of time the great passages tend to be- 
come separated from their matrix and are 
enjoyed by themselves without the cumber- 
some machinery by which they were introduced. 
The conditions of modern literary expression 
— through magazines and serial publications — 
— are such that a writer elaborates his fine 
scenes without other background than the 
evanescent interests of his own time, that 
may or may not have served as their inspira- 
tion. To the casual student this gives to 
much contemporary writing a fragmentary 
aspect. It may even give a sense of dis- 
couragement to the artist himself. Mr. Lea- 
cock somewhere expresses a sense of the tri- 

'vial character of his sketches, as compared 
with the broad canvases of the great mas- 
ters of the past. This dissatisfaction is unwar- 
ranted, for against the background of his own 

— 162 — 


time the mass of his productions has a scope 
and richness that will enable it to bear compari- 
son with the work of master artists working in 
other times and in other circumstances. As 
time passes, his finest work will tend to enter 
into comparison with the great passages that 
embody the literature of the past. How it 
will bear this comparison no critic can deter- 
mine, but Mr. Leacock need not fear for the 
future of his work on the ground that it lacks 
breadth and volume. He has produced under 
the conditions and limitations of his own time, 
just as the acknowledged masters produced 
under the conditions and limitations of their 
times, and in the final verdict of mankind his 
work will be judged with the same impartiality 
as that of the estabUshed master writers, whose 
power he admires and applauds. 

163 — 





Responsible government. Toronto, Morang 
& Co., Ltd., 1907. Cloth, 8vo., xii and 371 pp., 
frontispiece (portrait). Vol. XIV of the Makers 
of Canada, Parkman Edition. 


Responsible government. Edition de Luxe. 
Toronto, Morang & Co., Ltd., 1907. Cloth, 8vo., 
xii and 371 pp., frontispiece (portrait). Half- 
title: The Makers of Canada, edited by Duncan 
Campbell Scott, F.R.S.C, Pelham Edgar, Ph.D., 
and William Dawson Le Sueur, B.A., LL.D., 
F.R.S.C. "This edition is limited to Four Hundred 
Signed and Numbered Sets, of which this is 
Number . (Signed) George N. Morang." 


A chronicle of the Arctic Seas. Toronto, Glas- 
gow, Brook & Co., 1914. Blue leather, i2mo., 
vii and 152 pp., colored frontispiece, plates, por- 
traits and folded map. Vol. XX of "Chronicles 
of Canada" series, edited by George M. Wrong 
and H. H. Langton. 


A chronicle of the voyages of Jacques Cartier. 
Toronto, Glasgow, Brook & Co., 1915. Blue 
leather, lamo., vii and 125 pp., colored frontis- 
piece, plates, portraits, folded map. Vol. II of 
"Chronicles of Canada" series, edited by George 
M. Wrong and H. H. Langton. 

— 167 — 



A chronicle of aboriginal Canada. Toronto, 
Glasgow, Brook & Co., 1915. Blue leather, i2mo., 
vii and 112 pp., colored frontispiece, plates, por- 
traits. Vol. I of "Chronicles of Canada" series, 
edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton. 




London, Constable; New York, Houghton, 
Mifflin Co., 8vo., 1906. 


Revised edition. London, Constable; New 
York, Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1913. Cloth, 8vo., 
ix and 417 pp., folded table. 


London and New York, John Lane Co., Toronto, 
S. B. Gundy, 1920. 8vo., 152 pp., cloth. 


New and enlarged edition. i2mo., xiii and 
415 pp. London, Constable; New York, Houghton, 
Mifflin Co. 


Reprinted for the National Service Board of 
Canada, Ottawa, 1917. Narrow Svo., sewed. 
II pp. 




Toronto, S. B. Gundy; London, John Lane Co. 
1916. 310 pp., crown 8vo. 

— 168 — 





A book of sketches. Montreal, Gazette Print- 
ing Co., Ltd., 1910. i2mo., paper boards, 125 pp. 
Very rare. 


London, John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1910. 
8vo., 248 pp. Published in the United States by 
John Lane Co., New York, 191 1. 


London, John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1910. 
8vo., 230 pp. Published in the United States by 
John Lane, New York, 191 1. 


London and New York, John Lane Co., 1912. 
Frontispiece by Cyrus Cuneo; 8vo., 112 and 264 

BEHIND THE BEYOND: and Other Contributions 
to Human Knowledge 
London and New York, John Lane Co., i9i3« 
8vo., 195 pp., illustrated by A. H. Fish. 

London and New York, 1914- John Lane Co., 
8vo., 280 pp. 


A book store study. New York, The John 
Lane Co., 1914. i2mo., 34 pp. "Presented as a 
souvenir to those attending the Annual Conven- 
tion of the American Booksellers' Association, 


London and New York, John Lane Co., i9iS- 
8vo., 282 pp. 

— im — 



Drawings by A. H. Fish. New York, John Lane 
Co., 1915. Folio paper. 


Drawings by A. H. Fish. New York, John Lane 
Co., 1915. 8vo., illustrated paper. 


Sketches and satires on the follies of the day. 
London and New York, John Lane Co., 191 6. 
8vo., 312 pp. 


London and New York, John Lane Co., 191 7. 
8vo., 294 pp. 

Bolsheviki in Berlin and Other Impossibilities. 
S. B. Gundy, Toronto; John Lane Co., London 
and New York. 1919. i2mo. 269 pp. 

London and New York, John Lane Co., 1920. 
243 pp. 

Edited by Frank D. Genest, with a Preface by 
Stephen Leacock. Illustrated by G. E. Tremble. 
Publisher's jacket in red lettering and with a red 
illustration not in the book. Montreal, 1921. 
(ix) +69 pp., 5" X 7", yellow boards. 


London and New York, John Lane Co., viii and 
264 pp. London, John Lane Co., 1922. 


John Lane Co., London, and Dodd, Mead & Co., 
New York, 1923. Svo., 280 pp. 

— 170 — 



John Lane Co., London, and Dodd, Mead & Co., 
New York, Oxford Press, Toronto, 1923. 8vo., 

153 PP- 


S. B. Gundy, Toronto; John Lane Co., London, 
and Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1924. 8vo., 

(xi) + 282 pp. 



(Longer Magazine articles, other than those re-printed 

in books) 

The American Political Science Review, Wash- 
ington, Vol. i, pp. 355-392, May, 1907. 


National Review, London, Vol. Ivii, pp. 826-833, 
Jan., 1909. 


University Magazine, Montreal, Vol. viii, pp. 
351-374. Oct., 1909. 
National Review, London, Vol. Ivii, pp. 316-327, 
April, 191 1. 


National Review, London, Vol. Iviii, pp. 381- 
392, Nov., 1911. 

National Review, London. Vol. Ixvi. pp. 986- 
998, July, 1913. 

— 171 — 



(Two articles) Toronto Saturday Night, 
Toronto, 1913. 

AMERICAN HUMOR, Nineteenth Century. 
Vol. Ixxvi, pp. 444-457, Aug., 1914. 


The Bellman, Minneapolis. Vol. xxiv, pp. 655- 
662, June 15, 1918. 


National Review, London. Vol. Ixxiii, pp. 680- 
687, July, 1919. 


The Outlook, New York, Vol. cxxviii, pp. 160- 
162, May 25, 1921. 


Proceedings of the Royal Society of Canada. 
May, 1923. Third Series, vol. xvii. 


Canadian Magazine, Vol. 40, p. 91, November, 
1912; American Magazine, Vol. 77, p. 5, June, 

STEPHEN LEACOCK, Ph.D.: Savant and Humourist 

J. P. Collins. Living Age, Vol, 291, pp. 798- 
804, December 30, 1916. 


Poem. Living Age, Vol. 292, p. 812, March 31, 

— 172 — 



W. T. Lamed. New Republic, Vol. 9, p. 299, 
January 13, 191 7. 


Independent, Vol. 80, p. 404, December 14, 1914- 


Living Age, Vol. 311, p. 352-4* November 5, 


World's Work, Vol. 42, p. 181, June, 1921. 


By Bruce Barton. Portrait. Collier's, Vol. 69, 
p. 9, April 15, 1922. 


Outlook, Vol. 130, p. I47» January 25, 1922. 


William Caldwell. Canadian Magazine, Vol. 
59, PP- 55-60, May, 1922. 

Spectator, Vol. 127, pp. 589-91, November 5, 


By C. Lewis Hind. London: John Lane, The 
Bodley Head, 1922. Crown 8vo. Sage-green 
buckram sides, buff linen back, viii + 302 pp. 
No. 31 — Stephen Leacock, pp. 180-185. 

— 173 — 


/4, B, and C, 8; 129. 

A Hero in Homespun, quoted in full, 65-81. 

Alice in Wonderland, 7; 140, 

Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich," 63. 

Boarding-house Geometry, quoted in full, 29-32. 
Bull, Livingstone, 160. 

Calverly, 133. 
Carroll, Lewis, 140. 
Charles II, 151- 
Church of England, 5. 
Conservative Party, 5. 

Detroit Free Press, 7. 
Dickens, 10. 

Doomer, Mr., 83-93; 132. 
Dryden, 144. 

Economics, 4. 

Elements of Political Economy, 8; 157. 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 7. 
England, 2. 

Farming, 2. 

Fetching the Doctor, 19. 
Flagg, Montgomery, 160. 
Frenzied Fiction, 11/^. 

Hamilton, Lieut.-Col., 11. 
Hants, 2. 
Hapsburgs, 144. 
Hazlitt, 139-140. 
HohenzoUems, 144. 
HohenzoUerns in America, 161. 

— 174 — 


Imperial Organization, 5. 
Kaiser, 161. 

Lake Couchiching, holidaying at, 12. 

Lake Simcoe, home near, 2. 

Lamb, Charles, 129. 

Lane, John, 6; 9. 

Leacock, Stephen, autobiography, 2-7; birthplace, 2; 
came to Canada, 2; boyhood, 19; education, 
2-4; first reputation, 7; first payment for writing, 
8; life at Toronto University, lo-ii; as teacher, 
3; marriage, 11; interviewed, 13; at McGill 
University, 14; English comments, 14-18; as a 
lecturer, 152-155; early himiorous efforts, 128; 
in youth, 129-130; his art, 133; master of non- 
sense, 140; development of art, 141; as satirist, 
143,146; the real man, 146-147; a writer of 
pathos, 147; as an interpreter of life, 147-149; 
on American humour, 150; prohibition and public 
ownership, 151; intellectual fairness, 155; as 
historian, 156-157. 

Leacock, Stephen Lushinghton, 12. 

Leacock, Mrs. Stephen (Beatrix Hamilton of Toronto), 

L'Envoi, 33-45- 

Life, 7. 

Literary Lapses, 6, 7, 8; 18; 28; 32. 

Little Church around the Corner, 11. 

Lyendecker, 160. 

Mark Twain, 10; 129. 

Mariposa, 33-45- 

Mausoleum Club,3S; 37; 45; 132. 

McGill University, 4. 

Miller, Hugh, 144. 

Milton, John, 10; 144. 

Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy, 93. 

My Discovery of England, quoted from, 1 17-123. 

My Financial Career, quoted in full, 2 1-28; reviewed, 


— 175 — 


Night Life in Paris, 145. 

Nonsense Novels, 6, 9; 81; 139-141; 142; 159. 

Orillia, home at, 18. 
Oxford Smoking, 117-123. 

Political Science, 4, 5 ; opinion of, 149. 
Political Science Association of America, 5. 

Royal Colonial Institute, 5. 

Saloonio, 127. 

Saturday Night, 7. 

Scott, 10. 

Spectator, quotation from, 153. 

Standard, Montreal, quotation from, 12. 

Strachan, Bishop, 156. 

Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, 45; 136; 142. 

Swanmoor, bom at, 2. 

Swift, 144. 

The Little Girl in Green, 47-63. 
The Sorrows of a Summer Guest, 95-114. 
The spiritual Outlook of Mr. Doomer, 83-93. 
The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, 146; 149. 
Truth," 7. 

University of Chicago, 4. 
University of Toronto, 3; 10. 
Upper Canada College, 2, 3. 

Voltaire, 144. 

Watterson, Henry, 144. 

Winsome Winnie and other Nonsense Novels, 159. 

— 176 — 







Stephen Leacock. .E13